Hard Hitting Youth

From former NHL to Pro Football Hall of Famers, many former stars have openly spoken about the dangers and long-term effects of un-attended concussions and educated the athletic world today; changing it for the better but evolving the issue into a much-heated debate. Media attention on concussions has considerably grown over the recent years, unfortunately, high-school athletes have suffered from this problem for much longer; and between 2009 and 2016, the number of high school athletes with concussions was about 2.7 million according to a study in the American Journal of Public Health.

One of those victims was Connor Martin from Hermiston High School, Oregon, September 2016. Recently, the parents of the 17-year-old student have filed a $38 million law suit against the school district under the claims they failed to properly respond to their son’s concussion, who now suffers from permanent brain damage. The officials at Hermiston not only avoided discussion about the concussion, according to the suit, but the athletic trainer also cleared the teen to play four days later, despite his lingering symptoms.

However, the number has been trending downward each year from then on, thanks to laws that were and are being passed nationwide, calling for a better system of management on the injury. The pivotal implementation was of the play policy, which applied the helmet dislodgement rule, or if the helmet comes off after a hit in play, the player must be examined on the sideline and his equipment and health assessed. Though a general number of parents and coaches initially seem unconvinced of players making habits of loosening equipment while on the field (leaving chinstraps unbuckled, playing without a mouth guard, un-clipped pads), this policy guided a lot of success when it came to risk of serious injury, and was later applied nationally.

This, inadvertently, led to the redesign of the helmet, and thanks to advancements in technology- players have been gearing up for protection like never. Helmets have come a long way (leather helmets) and it continues to evolve as prototypes are now in development for player-specific positions. For those who are unaware, the quarterback’s helmet today are crafted differently from others with more support for the back of their head. It’s evident that changing the way we think about the policies of the game aids in our understanding of how to protect our players. This goes for all levels of sports.