Maplewood Richmond Heights High School was recently featured on NBC Nightly News for its somewhat controversial decision to cancel the football program from their athletics options. The School Board President, Nelson Mitten, formerly cited student disinterest as the reason for cancellation. He reported that only 14 students were interested in playing on the team this year, when MSHAA recommends 23 players per team. In 2007, there were 40 players enrolled on the team.
In more recent reports, the school district spokesman has said that injuries are playing a big part in their decision, as well. High school football injuries have become more common in the recent years. In 2014, MRH Football had one player with a head injury that was out for the entire season and another player who broke his ankle.
Maplewood Richmond Heights was the Missouri State Champ in 2010. Due to high school football injuries, the team was forced to forfeit one game due to an insufficient number of healthy players. The declining interest in the sport, along with the increase of high school football injuries, was the decision maker for Mr. Mitten. And they aren’t the only ones. Teams in Maine and New Jersey have now been disbanded due to high school football injuries.
Preventing High School Football Injuries
High school football injuries are being cited as the cause of death for at least 3 players already this year. There were a reported number of 5 deaths directly linked to high school football injuries in 2014 across the U.S. 16-year old Taylor Haugen of Niceville, FL died as a result of a ruptured liver in 2008. His parents have since become advocates for preventing high school football injuries. They have invested in a form of protective gear called the EvoShield. It is a shirt which is custom fitted to the player that protects the abdomen and spine from some of the force of impact.
On September 25 of this year, Evan Murray of Warren Hills, NJ also died as a result of high school football injuries. He was involved in a hard hit which caused an abdominal hemorrhage and enlarged spleen. The parents of Taylor Haugen relived their son’s high school football injury when they heard of the story. They want high schools across the nation to be more involved in providing proper protection to their players. As a result, they started the Taylor Haugen Foundation, which assists schools in obtaining gear such as the EvoShield for their players.
NFL and College football players are already wearing gear similar to the EvoShield. NCAA and NFL teams recognize the danger of abdominal injuries on the field. It’s time for schools on the secondary level to start taking high school football injuries more seriously. Due to increased penalties for helmet contact, tackles are taking place at a lower level, such as the abdomen or knees, rather than at the shoulder level. The trunk of the body is particularly vulnerable to high school football injuries because there is little to protect the vital organs within. For this reason, abdominal high school football injuries are being looked at as the 3rd wave of football injuries being brought to the public’s attention.
Find out more in the video below: