The Rider Online | Legacy HS Student Media

Opinion: The Danger of High School Sports

Senior Adriana Jaimes stretches junior Jared Hopper before the varsity football game against Aledo.

Gage Mitchell

Senior Adriana Jaimes stretches junior Jared Hopper before the varsity football game against Aledo.

Kendra Washington, Sports Editor

After three years of managing football, I’m still not used to it. The silence happens in an instant. All of the wild, joyous atmosphere disappears in that same moment. Athletes on the field and on the sidelines sink to one knee. You know you’re not the only one holding your breath as you struggle to see through the doctors, coaches, officials and trainers that surround the player. It never gets easier watching their loved ones cling to the rails of the stands more scared than you are. In better cases, the injured player limps off of the field and everyone attempts to resume as planned. In the worst of cases everyone sits in the suspense until the ambulance arrives.

We’re all aware of it.

From players, coaches and managers to fans, parents and friends. U.S high school athletes rack up more than 3.5 million injuries each year. In 2014, 533 Texas athletes suffered concussions. And the danger isn’t just in commonly blamed male sports like football. Cheerleading causes almost two-thirds of the catastrophic injuries experienced by female high school athletes in the U.S. Nine high school football players died last season of indirect causes, such as heatstroke. We are aware of the danger student athletes put themselves in every season.

These numbers might seem small and this may not look like an issue. But it never does until there’s an empty seat next to you in class where a person, not a number, used to sit. Then you realize that even if all the statistics were just one, that should be enough to beg the question: “is the danger worth it?:

Every day as the final bell rings, student athletes suit up and get ready to risk their lives more than anyone may be willing to admit. There seems to be no way to compromise this situation. We could increase safety regulations, but no matter what annoying adjustments are made, the danger will always be there if the sports are still being played.

Since 2002, close to 100 mothers sat in the stands of a football game and watched their child die right in front of them. Despite the danger, we can’t say that sports don’t produce amazing opportunities, experiences, relationships and purpose. The bonds that teenagers make. The life lessons that coaches instill in their players. The challenges that they learn to conquer.

The same reason that a student athlete wakes up every morning could be the reason they don’t ever wake up again. Sports can be life changing and life ending.

We face high dangers every day. Everytime we get in the car. Every time we cross the street. Everytime we walk out of our front doors. Sport related injuries, fatal and non-fatal, might not exactly be freak accidents, but there is some threat of safety to be found in almost everything.

So the answer to that question, “is the danger worth it?” I think, like any other sacrifice, that’s a question we all have to answer for ourselves.

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