Recent studies have indicated that 57% of all trauma related sports deaths were football related. These same studies indicated that many of the deaths could have been prevented had the players been kept off the field. The study, published in the journal of Pediatrics, analyzed fatal injuries and data that occurred during 22 different sports over the course of 10 years. What this mean is that it’s a valid study unlike that bull article about measuring attractiveness by race but I digress.
A few key bullet points in the study:
• Reviewed 1827 sudden deaths of young athletes from 1980-2009.
• 14% (261) of the deaths were caused by blunt trauma.
• 12% (138) of the deaths caused by head or neck injuries involved students that returned to the game after a concussion.
• In some of the “second impact syndrome” deaths, students were cleared to play in spite of symptoms from a previous head injury.
Let’s cut through the numbers and focus on what’s most important. The study focused on those under the age of 21 that died playing football with a statistically important portion of the deaths occurring after head blows. These kids had a history of symptomatic concussions. Need a little more clarity? We sent children back on the field knowing that they had head injuries and they died because of it. Does that hit home with anyone?
Star football players have talked about being recruited at the early age of 10. Parents have talked about being approached by scouts that urged them to keep in touch as their 12 year old son developed into a coveted athlete. Football players are groomed to be football players. They live, eat, sleep and breathe their sport, oftentimes to the detriment of their education, social development, cognitive development and physical health. The obsession with football is borderline fanatic and now there are numbers to prove it.
As we look at the current college and professional sports environment and its happenings when are we going to realize that we, meaning the fans, the coaches and the powers that be (I’m talking to you NCAA and Roger Goodell) are responsible for so much more than the revenue. We are the reason that Cam Newton (allegedly!) went to the highest bidder. We are the reason that Reggie Bush had to return his Heisman Trophy. We are the reason that 138 kids lost their lives. Someone is looking around right now saying, “who me?” Yes, you.
Ohio State packs up to 101,000 people in for football games. Penn State – more than 107,000. Michigan – more than 107,000. High school games are pulling up to 51,000 people. There is more money involved in football in high school than some businesses in the United States. Talking dollars and cents about college sports is ridiculous. Let’s just say that the money is insane. The game is no longer about competition and teams. It’s about being the best at your position so that you can go on to make millions in the NFL. Ironically, the NFL is now fighting to take a billion of those dollars back from the same players that have risked their bodies and their lives to play the game. Fans are up in arms about the lockout yet teams have still sold out their stadiums for the upcoming football season and there is no guarantee that there will be a season. If we really wanted the lockout to end, we could make it happen. Stop buying tickets. Stop buying jerseys. As soon as the owners realize that lost revenue, they’d be at the bargaining table singing a different tune. In the meantime, ask yourself athletes, parents and fans, do we really want to see another child lying dead on the field for your entertainment value? I can only hope that your answer is no.
This is a wake up call to the NCAA and NFL. Protect these players. Their lives literally depend on it.