Anyone who has ever put on shoulder pads knows that football is a dangerous sport, no matter what the level of competition. Injury is possible on nearly every play. Players are getting bigger and faster, and the speed of the game is also increasing. High school, college and professional players are consistently being educated on methods to keep themselves safe. League officials are always looking for ways to make the game safer, but injuries still happen. A recent high school game in Dallas shows how talented young athletes can find themselves suffering a devastating injury.
Quarterback Diondre Preston was scrambling for extra yards toward the end of the game. He was tripped-up from behind, and was lunging forward head-first. As he went toward the ground, an opposing player went in to make the tackle, which resulted in a helmet-to-helmet hit. Preston suffered a spinal cord injury, and is currently unable to move or feel anything below his shoulders.
The National Federation of State High School Associations has long been concerned with prevention of injuries, and this season they have focused on several areas of concern, including concussion recognition and management, heat illness and hydration, and illegal helmet contact. The NCAA and NFL have also put protocols in place to improve player safety.
What Should Your Team Be Doing?
Concussions have been receiving the most attention nationally, as the NFL has adopted strict new rules for players who exhibit symptoms of a concussion. In both high school and the NFL, players must be cleared by medical professionals before they are allowed to return to a game. If they do not show signs of improvement, they will not be allowed to play. Studies have shown that those who have suffered concussions are at serious risk if they play before they have completely recovered.
Hydration is always critical during the start of the season when players have long practices in extremely hot and humid weather. Failure to properly hydrate has led to serious injuries and death. Coaches have to be sure that the players are able to participate in practice and not suffer from any heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke.
Leagues are also making strides toward eliminating helmet-to-helmet hits, similar to the type that injured Preston. Often, these hits occur when a player is defenseless, such as a wide receiver trying to catch a pass or a quarterback who has just thrown the ball. There is no opportunity to brace for impact, and the defender makes head-to-head contact at high speed. This is particularly dangerous for young athletes, as neck muscles may not be completely developed resulting in paralysis or other serious injuries. Rules have been put in place to protect defenseless players, and more penalties are being called on those who hit opposing players in the head.
Even with these rules and precautions in place, sports injuries can still happen, at any time. Officials remind coaches, who remind players, but there is not always time to remember that training. If your child has been injured in a high school sporting event, contact an experienced personal injury attorney in your area to learn your options.