“… the benefits of football… outweigh the risks.”
By Dr. Daniel Rancier MD
This article discusses the decision to keep or remove support for High School football. It contains the differing opinions of three physicians as they try to make sense of the ever-growing concern about concussions in High School football.
The authors all agree that all sports carry the risk of concussion and that elimination of concussions is problematic. It is clear that football carries the highest risk of concussion among High School sports. Football has the highest number of participants of any sport with over 1.1 million boys participating.
All three feel that the benefits of football have to outweigh the risks for them to recommend supporting football to their High School Boards. Two of the authors believe that football is a “dangerous” sport and should no longer be backed by High School Administrators. They conclude that there is not enough evidence to show there is no long-term harm from concussions for them recommend football to their High School Boards. They also bring up the lack of available diagnostic tools to diagnose a concussion. They have a concern that physicians are not well enough trained in concussion management to make the diagnosis clinically.
These physicians also admit that if we ban football from High School Athletics then what sport is next? What is our definition of a “safe sport,” and who will define what is “safe play”? The physicians in this article agree that schools need to foster a culture of putting safety before winning at any cost. They also feel there should be a licensed athletic trainer on site and there should be a physician present at all football games which is knowledgeable about concussions.
For the time being high school football will remain, but if we want high school athletics to flourish it is necessary that we make them as safe as possible for all athletes. School boards should seek out and implement ways to reduce the risk of concussion based on the most current research available. All high schools should have a concussion protocol that includes Return to Play and Return to Learn components as well as an education program for the athletes, staff, and parents.