The NFL and NCAA concussion lawsuits have dominated headlines with eye-popping settlement figures, but high school football is the level presenting the most-widespread danger.
According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, an estimated 140,000 out of 8 million high school athletes suffer a concussion each year; most of these head injuries involve football players. In 2013, eight high school students died from football injuries while no college or NFL players suffered that horrible fate. A recent lawsuit in Illinois illustrates the danger.
Daniel Bukal, a former standout high school quarterback in Illinois, filed a lawsuit against the Illinois High School Association. Bukal alleges that the IHSA and Notre Dame College Prep School failed to protect him from and manage concussions he suffered during 1999 to 2003. He now suffers from memory loss and migraine headaches. Other former players have joined the lawsuit.
Youth football, where children – not men – play needs serious reform. Concussion protocol is an excellent first step, but much more is necessary to keep children from suffering head-trauma that may have a lifelong impact. Rule changes and head injury protocol are important, but they only work when athletic directors and coaches abide by them