A junior on a high school football team died when he suffered a fracture to a vertebrae, damaging his upper spinal cord. The injury occurred while playing in a preseason game. While the incident occurred at a Georgia high school, the danger of spinal cord injuries is often present in high school football games in Ohio and has led to previous lawsuits.
The death sparked an investigation by authorities which will look into a number of issues, such as whether the protective equipment worn by the player was adequate to protect him against foreseeable injury. One commentator stated that such investigations can be very helpful in developing new rules and policies to promote safety in the game. These investigations can provide factual data to show what is needed, which is preferable to making such decisions without objective information. The player, at the time of the injury, was tackling the receiver from the other team. Witnesses to the incident said he appeared to suddenly go limp.
The youth had ambitions to play professional football. He reportedly had received an offer of a university scholarship. He was described as popular, with many friends, and was a good role model. A friend said the player died doing something he loved, and that he always aimed towards a goal of greatness.
Such tragedies underscore the need for rules and practices to promote safety in athletic competitions, including requirements that adequate safety equipment be provided. Professional football players, as well as college and high school players, have often suffered spinal cord injuries. Such injuries can sometimes lead to death and, in other instances, can cause lingering disabilities that sometimes requires lifetime care.
Source: West Central Tribune, "Prep Football: Georgia standout dies after suffering spinal cord injury during scrimmage" No author given, Aug. 19, 2013