The National Football league is at its peak popularity in the country, with sacks of money rolling in and cash registers ringing an estimated market value of $45 billion for the mighty NFL.
With the professional profitability of the sport, it’s no wonder high school football programs have surpassed all other sports in student enrollment. Tragically, the sport’s popularity in schools has translated to four player deaths already in this young fall season.
The deaths include Evan Murray, a 17-year-old from Warren Hills Regional High School in New Jersey; Ben Hamm, a 16-year-old junior at Wesleyan Christian School in Oklahoma; Tyrell Cameron, a 16-year-old at Franklin Parish High School in Louisiana; and Kenney Bui, a senior at Evergreen High School in Seattle. These deaths hit home on Long Island, as just last year Tom Cutinella, a 16-year-old junior at Shoreham-Wading River High School, died after he collapsed following an on-field collision.
This is not a new problem. Since 1995, there have been 77 known cases in which the death of high school players were directly linked to football, according to numbers compiled by The National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research. There were five during the 2014 season. That is nine in the last two seasons combined. And we still have weeks left to play.
With everything we know about violent impacts on the brain and the human body, perhaps it is time to reevaluate the nature of the sport on the high school level. Full-contact football is fine for prime time, but it is too great a risk when it comes to our children—who have too much potential to die on a football field.
One fact is certain, no child has ever died from tackling a math problem or enrolling in a music class.