Brain-Rattling Hits


Crisp, fall weather. Loud, cheering crowds. The exhilarating speed of the game. If these things sound familiar to you, you’re not alone. High school football games are the most popular Friday-night events in hundreds of towns and cities all across the country. Which only makes a recent report on football concussions all the more alarming: athletes who play under those Friday night lights are more vulnerable to concussions than college or professional players.

Recent lawsuits against the NFL regarding its knowledge of concussions and their effects of player’s long-term health have brought the issue of football-related brain damage into the national spotlight. While the NFL settled those lawsuits (to the tune of $765 million), more research has been conducted on the lower levels of the sport, and the findings are concerning. Not only are high school students more prone to getting a concussion, but are also more likely to get a second one after the first.

The report also shows that other sports (including lacrosse, baseball and soccer) have a higher chance of causing concussions in young players. Girls’ soccer and basketball players were especially likely to experience at least one concussion. Perhaps the most damaging aspect in the report is the “culture of resistance” that exists around reporting these head injuries, even given the recent connections between concussions and brain trauma later in life.

While the report seems, at first glance, to demonize high school sports and their effects on students, the recommendations merely suggest possible rule changes, and better studies of concussions and their effects. Overall, the hope is for a culture change, where no player is afraid to report a concussion for fear of losing playing time, being thought of as a “wimp” or getting ridiculed for complaining. What do you think about concussions and high-school sports?

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