Indiana’s high school and college football season is underway and thousands of youth take the field in competitions of shear, brute force and strength. For many fans, football is a highlight of the sports seasons, with crisp autumn air, pep bands playing the school fight songs, and school spirit on full display. Unfortunately for many players this season, as in seasons past, these young people will be subject to life-altering injuries; not the least of these being a traumatic head injury (TBI).
News reports increasingly inform the public of another player who is sidelined by an major injury or even death. USA Today focused on this issue last year in their own investigation but the trouble has not diminished, even with increased scrutiny. In fact, the problem is growing into epidemic proportions and the trouble is greatest at the high school level. As the USA Today article points out, “High school football players suffer three times as many catastrophic injuries as college players — meaning deaths, permanent disability injuries, neck fractures and serious head injuries, among other conditions, according to a 2007 study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.” This report notes that nearly all the serious injuries came from either being tackled or tackling.
In a recent Frontline investigation, it was determined that more than 80% of football players examined after their death were found to have a severe form of brain chronic injury known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE. This was true whether they played at the elite professional level, college, or even high school level of the sport.