Researchers study deaths of young athletes

Heat stroke takes the lives of young athletes each year.
Heat stroke takes the lives of young athletes each year.
"A recent headline from a Florida news station read this way:"Teen Dies After Collapsing During Tampa High School Football Practice."

     This time of year young athletes report for football training camps in the blazing heat. USA Football estimates there are 3 million youth football players in the United States, and the emphasis on safety often focuses on avoiding brain injury. But new research looks at non-traumatic injuries and the impact of overzealous drilling. Here is the rundown on findings presented recently by Barry P. Boden of The Orthopaedic Center, Rockville, Maryland, during the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine Annual Meeting:
  • By the numbers: Researchers reviewed 187 non-traumatic football fatalities that occurred between 1998 and 2018. Of that number, 52 percent were due to cardiac issues, 24 percent were caused by heat and 5 percent from asthma. The remaining number were from various causes.
  • An off-season issue: Most of these deaths did not occur during the football season. Indeed, the most common month for non-traumatic injuries was August.
  • Drilling in the heat: Part of the problem is the impact of relentless drilling in the heat of summer. Most non-traumatic fatalities among high school and college football athletes occur in training and are associated with "overexertion or punishment drills required by coaches and team staff," the research found. In the case of the Tampa, Florida, incident, a 14-year-old boy collapsed 30 minutes into an outdoor practice that included weightlifting and wind sprints, according to CBS Miami.
  • These fatalities had three things in common: 1. A football or strength and conditioning coach supervised; 2. Intense workouts or punishment drills were scheduled; 3. There was an inadequate medical response.
  • Coaches and parents can do something about it: Fatalities are preventable by setting standards, holding coaches accountable and giving athletic health care providers authority over medical decisions.      


    Research: Football's damage begins early

    Like us on Facebook and tell us what you think.