Gayle Anderson was in Los Angeles for Friday Night Lights: High School Football Safety due to the debates about concussions and even deaths among football players, which have made recent headlines inquiring into the safety of high school football.
Gayle Anderson was live in Los Angeles for Friday Night Lights: High School Football Saftey due to the debates about concussions and even deaths among football players, which have made recent headlines inquiring into the safety of high school football. In California, high school football participation has decreased by 4% between 2007 and 2012, according to an August 2012 survey by the California Interscholastic Federation. In spite of this decrease, football led the top 10 boys’ sports with 103,088 participants in 2012.
Parents and their children should know about the risks that come with playing football (and other contact sports), many of which will not be detected immediately. High-profile deaths like that of former NFL linebacker, Junior Seau have received considerable attention because it raises the issue of the long-term repercussions of football player injuries. A team of scientists analyzed Seau’s brain tissue after he committed suicide in May 2012 and found that the former USC Trojan suffered from a brain disease likely caused by two decades of hits to the head. In 2002, a study was published linking physical violence in football to long term brain damage known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, which can lead to memory loss, depression, suicidal behavior and dementia among other symptoms. CTE is caused by repeated head trauma, which occurs among football players as a result of helmet-to-helmet collisions and hard tackles. In spite of the shared symptoms that point to the long term repercussions of head trauma, CTE is only diagnosed after an autopsy is performed. However, a study by UCLA researchers published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry in February 2013 found chronic brain damage in retired football players after testing for brain tau deposits using PET scans, which points to the possibility of identifying brain damage prior to the subject’s death. To view this study, click HERE.
The dangers of head trauma are not the only risks associated with playing football. Researchers from the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research found that an average of 12 high school and college football players die during practices and games each year in the United States. This study examined the causes of 243 football deaths recorded between July 1990 and June 2010 and showed that heart conditions, heat and other non-traumatic causes of death are twice as common as injury-related ones.
In order to limit lawsuits as a result of injuries and death, football helmet companies, such as Schutt Sports, Rawlings, and Riddell include labels that warn about the dangers of playing the sport and a declaration that no helmet can prevent all head or neck injuries. While these warnings are not meant to dissuade people from playing the sport, they do attest to the possible risks involved when playing football and urge players to take their safety more seriously.
According to the California Interscholastic Federation, a concussion can range from mild to severe and can occur during practice as well as in competition in ANY sport. A concussion can happen even if you do not lose consciousness. Concussion symptoms include:
- loss of consciousness
- balance problems or dizziness
- double or fuzzy vision
- sensitivity to light or noise
- “Don’t feel right”
- feeling sluggish, foggy, or groggy
- feeling unusually irritable
- concentration or memory problems (forgetting game plays, facts, meeting times)
- slowed reaction time
Exercise or activities that involve a lot of concentration, such as studying, working on the computer, or playing video games may cause concussion symptoms (such as headache or tiredness) to reappear or get worse.
While injuries will and do occur among athletes, fitness trainer, Erich C. Nall offers the following suggestion to improve safety for athletes, parents and coaches:
- PROPER PHYSICAL TRAINING: Injuries can be minimized by overall conditioning, strength, flexibility and technique. The better shape the athlete is in, the better his technique. Exercises are available to strengthen the neck and shoulder area.
- CONCUSSION IDENTICATION & PROTOCAL: Head trauma, whether due to direct contact with another player, hitting a hard surface or being hit with a piece of equipment, should be treated seriously. According to the CIF Bylaw 313, athletes with signs and symptoms of concussion should be removed from play or practice IMMEDIATELY. In addition, NO athlete may return to activity after an apparent head injury or concussion, regardless of how mild it seems or how quickly symptoms clear without written medical clearance. The CIF offers information for parents and coaches to learn how to detect the symptoms of a concussion and what to do after a concussion. CIF offers a training course for coaches and referees to recognize concussions. For more information, click HERE.
- EDUCATION & OVERSIGHT: Parents should educate themselves about football safety and take an active role in ensuring safe playing conditions for their child during practice as well as during competitions/games. Parents should also learn the proper helmet fit/tackling techniques and what to do after a concussion and make sure that their child’s coaches are certified.
Erich C. Nall, known as Coach E, is a certified fitness trainer and nutritionist who has spent the past 25 years studying and learning from the best in sports training and conditioning. He is the owner and founder of Ultimate Transformations Training in Los Angeles and is a contributing writer for a weekly column in Our Weekly Los Angeles, Volleball Magazine, The Los Angeles Sentinel, and most recently, The Los Angeles Wave Newspaper. He is also a frequent guest host on KJLH 102.3 FM in Los Angeles.
California Interscholastic Federation
4658 Duckhorn Drive
Sacramento, CA 95834
(916) 239-4478 FAX
Ultimate Transformations Training
14752 Crenshaw Boulevard, Suite 350
Gardena, CA 90249
This weekend’s FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS IN THE MORNING match-ups are:
*Long Beach Poly at Crenshaw: Maxpreps.com has Long Beach Poly ranked 21st in the country and 6th in the state. Crenshaw was 12-2 last year with an appearance in the L.A. City Championship.
*Venice @ Chaminade: Venice is a sure fire contender for this year’s L.A. City Championship. Chaminade is a perennial powerhouse, ranked 12 in California. Venice looks to avenge last year’s meeting between the two, a game Chaminade won 37-20.
*Upland @ Mater Dei: Upland is ranked 31th in CA. Mater Dei is ranked 5th in California.
*Servite (CA) @ Bishop Gorman (NV): Servite, usually one of the best teams in California, had a horrible season in 2012.
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