Saturday, October 31, 2015

Concerns about concussions in high school football

Concussion awareness is raising concerns about the safety of football for high schoolers.- JR

Awareness of the seriousness of concussions has been at the forefront of recent discussions involving the dangers of playing football.

Earlier this year, the NFL settled a class-action lawsuit with more than 5,000 ex-players who asserted that the league willfully hid information about the dangers of concussions.

While many hailed that as progress, high school coaches wonder if the risks involved with concussions will affect the numbers of participants in the future.

“As a high school coach, my big worry is that parents start moving kids away from the game,” Steele coach Scott Lehnhoff said. “We’re going to do everything we can to make sure protocols are followed and kids aren’t going back until it’s completely safe for them.”

The University Interscholastic League, which governs most high school sports in Texas, has a “return-to-play” protocol in which an athlete who has been diagnosed with a concussion must get a doctor’s approval before returning to play.

“If something looks like a possible concussion, then we get him out of there and make sure there are no coaches jumping in and saying, ‘Get him back in there,’” Highlands coach Juan Morales said.
But what more can be done?

Some things are already in place. Players are penalized for leading with their helmets. Helmet-to-helmet contact is also flagged as a penalty. Therefore, players are being taught not to lead with the heads.

“We need to try to take the head out of the game as much as possible,” Lehnhoff said. “As a coach in the past, maybe if a kid tackled with his head, you didn’t say anything, but now you are going to say something.”

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