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It Has Begun: One High School’s Decision to Put the Safety of Students First

High School Football and Head Injuries

It would have seemed impossible, extraordinary, even unfathomable a few years ago – but the exodus has begun, and it is starting with Maplewood Richmond Heights High School in Missouri. This year’s homecoming game will be a game of soccer, because in June the school board voted to disband their football team – a football team that had gone to the state championship only 5 years ago. Lest you think this was the decision of only the Board, know this: the decision to ultimately disband the team came in large part from the very players themselves.

The New York Times cites Nelson Mitten, “the school board president, [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][who] said that the series of injuries [sustained by the school’s team] last season led the board to discuss disbanding the team. The students were polled about their interests, and just 15 said they would try out for the team this season, including only five returning players.”

“When you simply don’t have the players, it’s obvious,” the school board president explained. “I had two parents informally raise concerns, but this was more of a student-participation-driven decision. It withered.”

And these players are not alone.

Taking steps around the country

Other schools around the country have seen interest wane, leading them to disband their teams. Ridgefield Memorial High School in New Jersey only had 13 students show up for varsity tryouts. Camden Hills Regional High School in Maine had to cancel games because of the sheer number of injuries their experienced players sustained, and they believed their younger player were at risk. All in all, “the number of male high school football players has fallen to about 1.08 million this year, a 2.4 percent decline from five years ago.”

Even the mighty Pop Warner organization is feeling the squeeze, as its numbers fall each year. It is currently being sued by a parent whose 25 year old son committed suicide; brain scans showed that he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

A call to action for parents and school boards alike

It is time for us to stop thinking about “tradition” and to listen to our children, who are making their stances known. Decreasing numbers of participants and increasing numbers of injuries – football is hurting our children. It has led to the deaths of three students this season alone, and the year has only just begun. How many more children have to die before we all, as a collective group, put an end to this horrific game?

The doctors have spoken. Your children have spoken. It is time to put an end to high school football once and for all.

Choose the future. Choose your children. Choose life.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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