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Should Football as a Sport be Banned in High School? College? Everywhere?

By  David Wolf, Attorney

Published by Child Injury LawyeBlog

Poster art illustration of an american football gridiron runningback player running with ball facing front done in retro style with words National League Championship.

The recent death of a Louisiana High School student from what appears to be a football related injury raises a question as to the dangers of the sport as well as the future of the sport.  It was reported that Tyrell Cameron, a 16-year-old Franklin Parish High School player, was hurt while covering a punt in the 4th Quarter of a game against Sterlington High School.  Tyrell collapsed after colliding with another player.  A full autopsy will be performed to determine if there were any other causes or conditions that contributed to the tragic death of this teenager. See Louisiana High School Football Player Dies After Suffering Injury During a Friday Night Game. 

 
Football, as we all know, is a contact sport.   It is a sport that is truly American in its origin and popularity.   Football is often the marquee sport at most schools.  Players are celebrated.  High school, college, and professional football are ingrained in our culture from August through February every year.  While its popularity and tradition are firmly in place, people including safety advocates still question its inherent dangers, risks, injuries, and yes, deaths.   Of course, there are risks inherent in most sports including basketball, baseball, soccer, wrestling, boxing, and lacrosse.  It just seems that football has the most contact and, yes, the biggest hits.  Over the past years, some safeguards have been put in place including better equipment and rules against helmet to helmet contact and other dangerous hits and tackles; however, both short term injuries (broken bones) and longer term injuries (traumatic brain injuries) continue to be reported.  Here are some questions to ponder to consider / debate when considering the future of future:
How many fractures are suffered during the season? How many fractures were preventable?
 
How does football compare to other sports regarding fractures?
 
How many concussions are suffered during the season? How many fractures were preventable?
 
Hoes does football compare to other sports regarding concussions?
 
How common are traumatic brain injuries for high school, college, or professional football players?
 
How does football compare to other sports regarding traumatic brain injuries?
 
How many high school players die each year from football related injuries?
 
How many of these deaths were foreseeable or preventable?
 
How does the death rate for football players compare to other sports?
Boxing and mixed martial arts fighting (MMA fighting) are not common sports in most high schools. Certainly, these sports would generate an audience; however, we do not commonly see these sports as part of most high school sports programs.  Is it because of the dangers involved?  Should football be considered a sport that has similar risks to boxing and MMA fighting?  Alternatively, is football be evaluated as a team sport like basketball, football, baseball, or lacrosse?
As long as football players continue to fracture bones, suffer concussions, and die as a result of football related activities (practice, training, and games), the debate as to the continuation of this great American tradition should and will continue.  At all levels of the game, the safety of the players (from pee wee football to professional football) should be a paramount concern to coaches, referees, organizers, and family members.