Although we are in the middle of summer, many youth and high school football players are gearing up to begin their summer practices so they will be ready to go when the fall season begins – just like their professional football team counterparts.
There has been much reporting about the widespread issue of brain injuries that professional football players have suffered over the years and the alleged cover-ups by the NFL and helmet makers, including multiple lawsuits that have been filed by former players and their families. One of the gravest dangers of playing the game is that the repeated blows to the head many players endure, which cause the degenerative brain disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). This disease is eventually fatal for victims who develop it.
However, it is not just professional athletes who are at risk of developing CTE. Multiple studies have concluded that these blows to the head are even more serious for young players because their brains have not fully developed. In fact, the younger a child is when they begin playing, the more severe the injuries can be.
One study, in particular, tracked the deaths of two dozen high school football players who have died over the past few years from injuries to the brain and spinal cord. The most dangerous positions – leaving players the most susceptible to these injuries – were running back and linebacker.
These studies have prompted USA Football – a national governing organization for youth and high school football – to draft a new set of rules for leagues with younger players. These new rules will be introduced in select football programs across the country beginning this fall. The new rules include:
- Eliminating special teams, which often cause harder hits;
- Matching up players of equal size;
- Prohibiting the “three-point stance” which gives players a more powerful position to tackle off the line;
- Reducing the number of players on the field. The current rules allow 11 players on the field; the new rules will allow only seven;
- Reducing the size of the playing field from 100 yards to 40 yards; and
- Requiring players to rotate positions.
Has Your Child Been Injured?
When a child plays football through schools or youth programs, the organizations owe a responsibility to players to keep the game safe, as these new regulations imply. However, injuries do occur that are not part of the accepted risk of football, like a case we handled were a team mate was operating a motorized “Gator” (like a four wheel ATV) and he ran over a team mate during a summer football camp at the school football field. Our client later died from the brain injury he suffered in this tragic football field injury incident, and we filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of his mother, which later was settled for 1 million dollars. If you child has been injured playing football or another organized sport, due to a cause not associated with the normal risks of the sport, contact a North Carolina personal injury attorney to see what legal options your family may have.