Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Is It Time to Question the Place of Football in High Schools?

“Tough men do not cry. Placing your hands over your head and complaining about the effects of concussions are deemed as signs of weaknesses.” Bennet Omalu, Play Hard, Die Young: Football Dementia, Depression, and Death

As it becomes clearer and clearer that repeated blows to the head while playing football causes CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, perhaps its time to question whether we can really guarantee that the thousands of young men who play high school football can really be safe from serious future brain injury. The truth is, parents trust that when their child puts on a football uniform that there is some degree of safety involved, but what is apparently becoming clearer, repeated blows to the head have long-lasting serious health effects.

I think it is past time for high schools to begin questioning whether the sacrifice of future health and well-being is worth the fleeting moments of glory wrought on the high school football field. Sure, the argument can be made that taking risks is a part of life, but do we really in good consciouse want to ask a 16, 17, or 18 year old to sacrifice their future well-being for a game?

I realize that high school sports have a strangle hold on public education. For many schools, the only succeess they experience is on these fields. Yet, we do need to be conscious of all that we’re asking our students to sacrifice when they choose to participate. As a high school football player who suffered a life-changing injury many years ago, I can’t but wonder how my own life would have been different had I knew 40 some years later the physical damage it would have caused.