Every high school football coach in New York should be concerned first and foremost with the health and safety of the players. A lack of adequate information and training about how to recognize a concussion could mean the difference between life and death for a young player. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, any teen who suffers a concussion sustains damage to brain cells, which are torn and stretched, causing chemical changes. This can happen when a player receives a blow to the head, but the brain can also twist or bounce inside the skull and sustain damage during a blow to the body.
Rarely, a blood clot forms on the brain after a concussion, which can be fatal. More commonly, serious injuries come from a second concussion that occurs soon after the first. There is a higher risk of harm during the physical developmental stages during these years because the brain is still forming. If a player does not get time to heal and receives a second concussion, there is a much greater chance of permanent brain damage, and the trauma could even be fatal. USA Today reports that 95 percent of those who die after a second blow to the head are younger than 18.
There are other factors that may contribute to the relatively high rate of teen death compared to their college and pro football counterparts, too. For example, high school players are more likely to be wearing older equipment that is no longer effective. In addition, it is not common for high schools to have certified athletic trainers and coaches on staff who are educated in the symptoms and treatment of concussions. While most experts are not advocating to eliminate high school football programs, agencies such as the CDC are advocating for more awareness so coaches, referees, parents and athletes can avoid the potentially devastating effects of these teen injuries.