The Risk of Being an Athlete

By Kira B.

According to healthline.com, Colorado researchers estimate there are more than 500,000 injuries of some sort to high school football players nationwide every year.

If football at the high school level is so dangerous, why are kids allowed to play?

Charlie C., a junior at Duxbury High School decided not to play football this past fall. Charlie has played baseball alongside football ever since he was little. He said, “Last season was kind of a tough year for football, while my baseball career took some strides. I committed to Bryant University this fall to play baseball in college.”

Although Charlie wanted to be able to play both sports, he was aware that football was a dangerous game. He said, “I saw the injuries that were happening in football. Dudes with their brains scrambled like eggs / guys with dislocated shoulders. I decided I needed to protect my body and arm in order to stay healthy enough to pitch my best in college, so it was high time to hang up the pads.”

The risks of getting injured while playing football were enough for Charlie to quit. According to The New York Times, he doesn’t stand alone. Zach Schonbrun wrote in his article, “Amid Concern Over Concussions, High Schools Struggle to Fill Football Rosters”, that there has been a drastic statewide decline in football participation in New Jersey. Schonbrun states that safety concerns are the primary cause for this decline. Although efforts to make football safer are being made, (such as less hitting in practice and using soft-shell helmet covers), coaches in New Jersey are still struggling to maintain their big rosters.

Duxbury High School’s athletic trainer, Tim McPhillips weighed in his opinion as well. McPhillips agreed that football results in many injuries, but argued that all sports (collision or contact) do.

McPhillips explained the difference between a contact and collision sport. Soccer, baseball and basketball are all considered contact sports, while hockey and football are considered collision sports. With sports like football, every play involves collision, therefore an increased risk of injuries like concussions is bound to appear.

“There is no way to prevent a concussion, no helmet or equipment that can protect the brain”, said McPhillips, “so many kids are becoming hesitant to play.”

Although football can be dangerous and the risk for concussions are high, Mr. McPhillips explains how far the sport has come. New concussion laws, less intensive practices and better tackling methods are all being implemented to protect players.

Football is undeniably a risky sport, but coincidentally, all sports are. Healthline.com stated that “A high school athlete is about three times more likely to get hurt than competitors in other major sports”, and Mr. McPhillips said that he had more cheerleaders coming to him with concussions this past season than football players.

Perhaps the stereotype that football is the most dangerous sport is wrong. All kids get hurt, no matter the sport, and all sports are vulnerable to their own injuries.

Jenna L., a junior at DHS and a varsity cheerleader had to sit out of practice for weeks to recover from a concussion the fall of her sophomore year. While falling from a new stunt, Jenna hit her back and head on the mat hard enough to earn herself an orange concussion. She said, “Cheerleading is a really dangerous sport. Everyday, we have minor injuries, and put ourselves at risk for big ones.”

Every sport can lead to injury – big or small. Football may be dangerous, but so is cheerleading, soccer, cross country and lacrosse.

So, is playing worth the risk?

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