A Pennsylvania high school board member recommended banning football at the high school level, according to phillyBurbs.com. Patty Sexton, who is also a Philadelphia public school teacher, made her feelings known during a Council Rock board meeting last week.
Sexton claimed that continuing the sport at schools funded by the general taxpayer base is inappropriate, that it has become too dangerous and carries too much of a risk of lasting effects from injuries, especially concussions.
“It’s no longer appropriate for public institutions to fund gladiators,” she said. “I am very, very concerned about putting these student-athletes in the position of getting a concussion. Football has gotten faster, harder and more dangerous with each passing year. I’m extremely scared we will eventually be sued over injuries suffered in sports.”
Sexton added that she also has concerns with other contact sports in high schools, but that her main emphasis was on football because she believes it is the most dangerous sport played in high schools.
Mike May, director of communications for the Manufacturers Sporting Goods Association (SGMA), shared his initial thoughts about Sexton's comments with Team Business.
“Football is a great sport, and there is a risk of injury with it,” said May. “But it's a sport that, if played properly, the chances of an injury are reduced dramatically. If you just look at the players who get injured, you might think it's a major concern. But I think that banning high school football is a rather Draconian step, and definitely not one that we even need to consider right now.”
Council Rock Superintendent Mark Klein, head football coaches and athletic directors at both school district high schools declined to respond to Sexton’s comments.
With the recent high-profile suicides of former NFL stars Junior Seau and Dave Duerson linked to concussions, as well as with groups of NFL players bringing lawsuits against the NFL with seeming regularity as a result of long-term injuries sustained from brain trauma, the safety of football has been called into question more and more often.
SGMA's May believes it is possible that other school administrators and officials may echo Sexton's concerns in the future. “It's probably something that will pop up again,” he shared. “As long as this is a high-level topic, people with opinions will speak them, and they'll be noticed. It's the job of the football manufacturers and the football industry to get together to continue to build equipment that provides the safest experience possible for the athlete.”
Sexton admitted that she has an uphill battle to ban high school football. “I know my chances of eliminating football at Council Rock are about as good as keeping the sun from coming up tomorrow, but I feel like it has to start somewhere,” she stated. “Some school district has to stand up and say we care more about our children than we do about feeding them into the funnel of the NFL.”