In the wake of an eighth high school football player’s death since early September, three U.S. Congressmen, representing both sides of the aisle, are attempting to address the epidemic.
Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), Rep. Ralph Abraham, M.D. (R-La.), and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) introduced the High School Football Safety Study Act to Congress, asking the Centers for Disease Control to study the recent deaths, in coordination with the Secretary of Education and the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, and recommend preventative measures going forward.
“Our children are our greatest national treasure, and protecting them is paramount in our work in Congress,” Richmond said in a statement. “It is our responsibility to ensure that we leave no stone unturned to make the game as safe as possible for young people and prevent these tragedies from happening in the future. Moving forward, I hope this legislation will start that process and begin a national conversation about how to better protect youth in football.”
The bill, which has been in the works for several weeks, would require the CDC to produce recommendations within a year.
Abraham represents the 5th District of Louisiana, which includes the Monroe area. Tyrell Cameron from Franklin Parish High in Winnsboro died after he broke his neck in a game in early September.
“My district felt the terrible effects of one of these tragedies just this year,” Abraham said. “This bill will seek the root causes of such incidents so that we can better protect our children while preserving the game we love. Saving the lives of our children is a worthy cause to pursue.”
Because of the varied causes of death — ranging from head or neck trauma to heatstroke — it’s a tall order to solve a problem that has reportedly resulted in more than 1,200 high school football player deaths since 1931.
However, the High School Football Safety Study Act could be a step in the right direction toward a) properly detecting early warning signs and b) further educating coaches, parents, trainers and healthcare professionals about the dangers of football. This is an important conversation across the nation, and the more information, the better.
USA Football is among the organizations that has come out in support of the proposed legislation.
“We’ve seen the positive effect that better education and standards supported by research and rooted in the best available science can have on coaches, players and parents,” the organization’s CEO, Scott Hallenbeck, said in a statement. “We support every action being taken to advance player health and safety. In the past 18 months since USA Football introduced our Heads Up Football program for high schools, 11 state high school athletic associations and nine high school coaches associations have endorsed it. The program teaches the fundamentals of blocking and tackling with medically endorsed protocols relevant to all sports, including concussion, sudden cardiac arrest and heat stroke. … We’ve partnered with the CDC since 2007 and are eager to continue working with them and others for the benefit of our young athletes.
Here are the eight player deaths reported by USA TODAY Sports since early September. There have been 11 deaths since July 1, according to the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Industry Research in North Carolina.
- Cam’ron Matthews of Alto, Texas, becomes sixth prep football player to die this season
- Seattle area player Kenney Bui dies after on-field injury
- Three weeks, three communities, three high school football player deaths
- Teammate shares La. prep player’s last words to him
- New Jersey football player died from lacerated spleen after on-field injury
- Georgia’s Rod Williams dies two weeks after collapsing in practice
- Chicago player dies from blunt force trauma to head
- Kansas football player Luke Schemm dies after being taken off life support