Concussions in high school football

Cardinal Gibbons cornerback Luke Stokes (6) intercepts football on a pass route from Leesville Road during a junior varsity football matchup. Later during the game Stokes would receive a concussion from a tackle to his head, causing him to leave the game early and rushed to the emergency room. (Photo permission of Toni Orr)

The sport of football brings a variety of possible injuries to the players. Due to the constant physical contact of the head, athletes are held at a higher risk of getting a concussion. Designed to be played as a physical contact sport, injuries are more likely to occur throughout the game. One study estimates the statistics of the likelihood of an athlete in a contact sport experiencing a concussion is as high as 20% per season.

The physical and mental toughness of the players results in how rough the players perform on the field, often resulting in the possibility of an injury. High school football is consistently shown in studies to be the sport with the greatest proportion of concussions (47.1%) and the highest concussion rate (6.4 concussions per 10,000 athletic exposures).

Each year, the National Football League (NFL) and NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) apply new regulations to the rulebook to support the prevention of player injuries. Examples of targeting, horse-collar tackling, and unnecessary roughness penalties are enforced to prevent a player’s risk of moderate to severe injury. Although most of the NFL and NCAA penalties are included within the high school rulebook, the enforcement of the penalties claims to be the issue. As stated in the National Association of Sports Officials articles, the liability for sports officials during a player injury does not apply blame of injury to the official but however does appoint referees who are subjected to missing penalty calls during games in which could possibly affect player’s protection during the game. Referees who do not catch sight of unnecessary roughness could possibly result in a serious injury for player

Players are required to wear protective helmets that surround the head and face to prevent face or head injury. The helmets are made of a polycarbonate plastic that possesses a unique balance of toughness, dimensional stability, and high heat resistance. Each player is provided a helmet and is forced to wear one during games. The helmets are used to prevent injury to the head, specifically concussions. Football helmets provide a barrier between the skull/ head and the physical contact on the outside of the head. During a tackle that includes contact to the head, the helmet absorbs the hit and provides a stable and secure barrier for the skull and brain to retreat behind, preventing the risk of concussion.

Although helmets prevent most head-related injuries, concussions still occur through the roughness of other players. A hard enough tackle could bypass the helmets barrier and cause the skull to take the force of the hit. The skull could then possibly make contact with the brain and cause a concussion. Luke Stokes, a JV football cornerback, recently contracted a concussion from a severe hit to the crown of his head. Stokes states that his helmet and protective wear was not the cause of his concussion, but rather the physical contact and roughness of the players during the game. 

“It was the physical contact of the players that caused the concussion. My helmet and all my pads were in check and I didn’t have any issues with them prior or during the game,” says Stokes. 

Grace Newton, former staff writer for The Mycenaean, wrote an article specifically about the influences and risks of high school concussions. Newton claims that high school concussions are the most common and most frequent among student football athletes. Her research shows that there were 11.2 concussions for every 10,000 high school games. The rate for college athletes was 6.3 for every 10,000. Coach Ennis, Leesville coach and athletic trainer, claims that the concussion rate among high schoolers has skyrocketed since 2016. “I’ve been teaching for 16 years, and there are way too many cases to count,” said Ennis. Based on a students ‘cognitive ability to play’, Ennis says that there is no specific way to prevent concussions. 

Concussions occur only through the physical roughness of other players. Protective gear and rulebook changes do not affect the way a player plays the game of football. A player’s mental and physical strength is what causes most injuries in football, let alone high school football. 


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.