Tuesday, October 07, 2014

SPORTS - High School Football and the Health Cost

"Weighing the health costs of high school football" PBS NewsHour 10/6/2014


GWEN IFILL (NewsHour):  As the fall football season heats up, the Friday night lights dimmed somewhat last week with news that three young players died from injuries sustained on the field.

Tom Cutinella, a 16-year-old, collapsed following a blocking collision during a game in Elwood, New York; 17-year-old Demario Harris Jr. was pronounced dead three days after collapsing during a game.  He’s believed to have suffered a brain aneurysm shortly after making a tackle.  That same night, 17-year-old Isaiah Langston collapsed during a warmup before playing for Rolesville High School in North Carolina.

Our Student Reporting Labs train young people in public media journalism.  They went to the football team at T.C. Williams High School in Virginia, which happens to include a female kicker, for reaction.

MAHLIQUE BOOTH:  I like contact.  I love hitting.

ZACHARY EISENHOUR:  I love hitting in football.  That’s one of the things that makes football great.

STUDENT:  I like the contact.  That’s what it is.

RAYJON JONES:  When I had that first contact with someone, then like I felt like I had enough power to do what I want.

BRIANNA SMITH:  When I did kickoff last year, I obviously knew that I could be tackled.  And then when it actually happened one time, I was completely shocked, because I didn’t know what it was really going to feel like.

DENNIS RANDOLPH, Football Coach, T.C. Williams High School:  Coaches, again, we talk about this in our meetings.  We did early.  And sometimes we have kind of neglected it in the past, but please make sure that, because of these three deaths related to football — OK, and that’s most in a long period of time — with all the safety that is taking place now, we play a game.  We want to have fun.

But we also want to make it safe.  We want you to play hard, we want you to hit hard, we want you to go after your opponent, tackle him, knock him to the ground if you are blocking him, but we want you to be safe about it.  We don’t want — we’re not saying kill the other player, because that’s not appropriate.

Fortunately, I have never have worked with a kid who died.  Those kind of things are tragic.  And certainly it affects us because I work with kids every day, and I really don’t know how I would react to one of my players getting hit and dying from an injury related to the sport that I — has been a part of my life my whole life.

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