30Q-2-KICKOFF (No. 21): Heady stuff

Today, I’ll expand a little on a package that you might’ve seen in this weekend’s paper concerning head injuries in football.

With the NFL putting more of an emphasis on protecting players from serious head injuries, what will the trickle down effects be in the high school game?

Before I get into my own thoughts, let me point you in the direction of some great source material. Mark Emmons and Dennis Knight of the Mercury News did the bulk of the legwork on this great package, and I helped as much as I could, but the technical information on head injuries in high school football is fantastic. Click that link before proceeding. And, while you’re at it, click on this one too.

OK, so now that you’ve done your homework, let’s discuss. Head injuries have become more of a hot button issue throughout football lately, and various media outlets, lawmakers and school officials are starting to notice.

With seemingly everyone you talk to about the subject, the biggest goal right now is to increase awareness. Good knowledge about head and neck injuries hasn’t necessarily been the first thing people talk about when getting ready for a football season, and I think that’s beginning to change.

In that same vein, I’ll be the first to admit that I learned a lot doing research for the project. I talked to former Northgate QB Colin Barney, who has dealt with concussions since he was a freshman, and he taught me a bunch because he had done his senior project on the topic last year. In his opinion, the rules of football aren’t necessarily what need to be changed. What needs to be changed is the level of knowledge that people have about the subject. Players and parents need to know what to look for in order to diagnose the problem.

Another message that I took away is the fact that yes, football is an inherently dangerous sport. Then again, so are all sports. It doesn’t mean kids need to stop playing. A fundamentally sound football player is way less likely to get caught in a bad position or hit someone in the wrong place. What’s the message? Learn to play the game the right way.

Ben Enos

  • Mikel Jackson, ATC

    Thanks for contributing to and publicizing this information to your readers. Most coaches, athletes, and parents are uninformed of the prevalence of traumatic brain injuries in youth sports and the serious consequences that can happen. And, unfortunately, some would prefer to remain uninformed. We need to acknowledge this is a problem and change our attitudes.

    I want to emphasize a few points. In 2009, head injuries were 19.3% of all HS FB injuries and it’s not just a football problem. The next 2 sports in number of occurrences are G. lacrosse and G. soccer. And, long term effects like dementia, depression, CTE(brain degeneration)are being found in more athletes.

    The take home message should be for athletes to always report their symptoms and coaches to have mandatory training in recognizing the signs and symptoms of head injury, so athletes can be removed from activity and referred to healthcare professionals. In a perfect world, every CA school would be required to have a certified athletic trainer (ATC) on staff for EVERY PRACTICE and GAME. And each school should have a formal and progressive return to play protocol for head injuries.

  • Back in the day, teams usually had a doctor on the sidelines. That doctor would usually have a son on the team or have children attending the school, volunteer his or her time for a Friday nite or Sat. afternoon game. Since most medical professionals don’t work the weekend, it was a no- brainer- bond with your kids and enjoy a game.
    Some teams, not many still do this. ALL teams should do this.
    I don;t care what league or what area they are in, some doctor has to have a child at their school or be associated in some way. Mabey that doctor went to that school, alumni? Here’s the key, establish parent/teacher(that’s right TEACHERS) booster clubs, then line up the volunteers. Doctors and sports stars should be giving back to their community. These people makes millions of dollars a year, let’s see them step up. Every high school principle knows a doctor, help recruit them.