YUMA, Ariz. – Football is played by more than a million high school students across the country. The sport is now in the spotlight but this time in the wake of tragedy. A Tennessee high school football player remains in critical condition as of Monday after a head injury from a game Friday night. Just a day prior an Illinois football player died from head trauma. The victim Andre Smith is the 7th high school football player to die this season. Last year 5 players died from football injuries, and 6 others from related injuries.
Albert Barrien is the head coach for the Harvest Prep Academy football team in Yuma, their team had a head injury on Friday, “Last Friday we had a player with a concussion me and my staff stayed by his bedside till he was released from the hospital” says coach Barrien. Luckily that player is OK, Barrien explains that there is always a risk but his staff has been trained to deal with these situations, “One of the main courses we had to take was head injuries awareness and being the head coach my whole staff had to be certified”.
To make youth football safer the American Academy of Pediatrics issued new guidelines for safety. The recommendations include putting athletic trainers on the sidelines, offering non-tackle football as an alternative and to have zero tolerance for illegal head-first hits…something that Doctor Jose Vega with the Yuma Regional Medical Center agrees with, “Alot of what makes it safer is kida learning how to tackle going through drill and practice to make sure they know what they are doing”.
YRMC has been battling the other inherent threat, sudden cardiac arrest,they recently held a heart screening where they saw hundreds of students to potentially lower their risk of heart problems while playing sports. Vega says, “Those testings have allowed us to screen people more thoroughly a big advancement this year”.