Community remembers late high school football athlete

Josh Dean

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Tragedy struck at Franklin Parish High School last Friday.

The Patriots football team was in the fourth quarter of a game against Sterlington when of their players went down after a hit on a punt return. He was rushed to the emergency room but died from a broken neck suffered on the hit.

A vigil was held Sept. 5 where students and community members expressed their grief and condolences.

“It’s something you can never prepare for”, said Patriot’s head coach Berry Sebren.

Incidences such as these are sobering reminders of the violent clashes and collisions, which occur on the football field daily.

According to the American Journal of Sports Medicine, over 1.5 million boys participate in high school and middle school football.

In a 2007 study by the journal, it was shown that four out of every 1000 participants suffers an injury on the field, with a vast number ending up as season ending.

Spinal cord injuries occur at a significantly smaller rate, but the consequences can be much more severe.

The National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury said that from 1977 to 2006, 222 spinal cord injuries occurred among high school football players resulting in permanent disabilities.

Over this same period only nine occurred in the NFL.

Louisiana has one of the highest rates of cervical spine injuries in the nation.

From 1989 to 1995, 14 football athletes suffered spinal injuries. This put the states’ average at 2.3 per year compared to 1 for the national average.

The discrepancy between professional and amateur football can be attributed in part to more players at the high school level, but also and more importantly to greater instances of improper technique when delivering hits.

This includes leading with the head or keeping the down when going into a tackle.

Football is a game that comes with inherent risks. No one can ever truly be prepared for a tragedy such as that which befell the Cameron family, which was a freak accident on the field that has saddened an entire community.

But better coaching techniques  and instruction along with having trained medical technicians on standby can greatly minimize the risk and reduce the chance it happens to another family.