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Could Recent High School Football Deaths Have Been Prevented?

A 16-year-old Long Island boy died from a football collision last week. The youth athlete was playing for the Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats when he was injured in what was described as a “typical football play,” by school superintendent Steven Cohen.

After the collision, the boy stood up but then quickly collapsed. He was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery but did not survive the purported brain injury.

The fatal accident was one of three U.S. high school football deaths within a week. Students in Troy, Alabama, and Rolesville, North Carolina, recently died during football activities.

Many parents are growing increasingly concerned about the safety of football. While the exercise, teamwork and camaraderie are valuable to youths, parents are trying to decide whether the rewards outweigh the risks.

About 12 high school football players die each year playing the sport, according to research in the American Journal of Sports Medicine. Considering the millions that play ball, the fatality risk is small. However, debilitating spinal cord injuries and concussions are much more prevalent and often go undiagnosed.

Safety equipment, such as high-impact football helmets, help mitigate the force of some of the collisions. Safety-minded rules, like those that require proper tackling technique, are also part of the effort to decrease injury risks.

Despite the measures, nothing can cover up the fact that football is a violent game. Each family will have to decide if football is the right activity for its child.

Sometimes, serious football injuries cannot be labeled as ‘freak accidents.’

Negligent supervision, improper coaching or a failure to follow New York State Public High School Athletic Association guidelines may render a school district liable for a student-athlete’s injuries. Speak to an experienced attorney to learn more.

Source: ESPN, “Football Death A ‘Freak Accident,'” Oct. 2, 2014


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