By Eli Hearne Sports Correspondent. It seems like every weekend another ESPN update comes in about a high school football player that has died due to brain damage. Or on a more national scale, every few months, an ex-NFL player passes away due to the long-term effects of concussions and brain damage.
In this high school football season, six players have died directly due to game related injuries. The issue has raised attention all over the country, and discussions on how to change the game and make it safer are underway.
Damon Janes was a high school student that lost his life at age 16 because of hits to his head. He spent three days in the hospital before passing away due to “blunt impact injury” to the head. Janes’ mom says that the tragedy is extremely upsetting. “No one should die while playing the game that they love,” said Mrs. Janes.
The effects of injuries in football are also felt at Sharon High. More concussions are seen today due to a greater awareness of the long term and short-term effects that a concussion has on a person.
When an athlete at Sharon suffers a concussion, they are put on a five-step progress plan that measures the recovery and steps that need to be taken to reach the ultimate goal of being concussion free and once again be able to participate.
Quarterback Devon Mann says that he is scared for his safety during games. “At any moment, any play, head to head injuries can happen, but football is football. If you are signing up for it, you are signing up for the risks of injury,” said Mann.
Junior Jack Lesser says that he stopped playing football because of a concussion, which kept him out of school for about a month. “Watching football on Sundays I am able to empathize with the players that take hard hits, becoming concussed and I think it is pretty amazing that they are able to come back next week,” said Lesser.
Yet Lesser says that the game of football is making strides in preventing more injuries like his. “You can see today how tackling had gotten better within the past five to ten years as concussions have become a more important aspect of the game,” Lesser added.
The NFL is starting to take more precaution in the sport. Beginning this season, every team in the league must have a professional neurologist on the sideline. Neurologists have the ability to stop the game at any point if they feel a player may have suffered a concussion or any hard hit to the head.
NFL Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson along with fifteen other retired players, filed a lawsuit against the NFL for not reporting the long-term effects of brain injuries. The issue of brain injuries in football is becoming more important with every hit. “People want to see the big hits. They wind up on Sports Center. And as a player, you don’t want to admit you are injured,” said Dickerson.