High School Football and Head Injuries

September 28, 2018, was a night like any other for Pike County High School. Bright lights lit the sea of cheering faces, laughter, and cries of excitement filled the stadium–the team was like a sea of red and black jerseys. To any onlooker, this would’ve seemed like a typical high school football game. And it really was…until the 3rd quarter.

One moment, junior Dylan Thomas was blocking the offensive linemen, the next, he was being carried off in a stretcher. Two days later, the 16-year-old linebacker died of a severe head injury.

At first, Dylan was complaining of his leg not feeling right. Then he lost consciousness and was taken to a hospital. Two days later on Sept. 30th, after undergoing multiple surgeries to relieve brain swelling, Dylan passed away.

Dylan Thomas’ case is just out of many. His heartbreaking death was the result of a traumatic head injury. A study by the CDC actually found that an average of 2.4 high school football players die each year due to traumatic brain injuries.

Not much light has been shed on the long-term effects of high school football. I think this is because our American culture has placed such a big emphasis on high school football and the value that has been placed on it as a required high school experience.

Friday night football games hold a quintessential value to the American high school experience. We see these Friday night games as merely something to do and a way to meet new people in the early months of the school year, but they are more than just that.

While watching football can be incredibly fun for the onlookers, it can be extremely dangerous for those playing on the field. Something as insignificant as a poorly fitting helmet can increase chances of a head injury. We, the spectators, tend to overlook how dangerous this sport may potentially be for the players.

These serious brain injuries can lead to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease most often found in athletes. Most people may think that the pressing matter in the midst of impact sports is concussions, but the matter is that CTE can develop even without a concussion.

Because of this, we must acknowledge the imperative risks of football and do much more to solve this pressing issue. The deaths of many football players such as Dylan Thomas have proven that this issue needs much more attention before more lives are lost.