The Price of Keeping Your Head in the Game

The Price of Keeping Your Head in the Game

By Guest Writer Kate Avdellas


It was just a typical football season day for Max Tagg, a freshman at Tuscarora High School. He woke up and headed for school, pumped up for his big football game against Tuscarora’s rivals, the Loudon County Raiders. Max plays on the freshman football team and is a devoted athlete. As Max’s day progressed, all he could think about was hitting the field and playing under the lights. After hours of anticipation, Max and his rowdy teammates boarded the bus and headed to their opponent’s field. They knew the game was going to be rough, perhaps especially so, since the Raiders had home field advantage.
Twenty minutes later, Max and his team arrived at the Loudoun County stadium. They headed towards the field following their well respected coach, Coach Snyder. After their routine warm-up, the Huskies were on the sideline waiting for kick-off. The Raiders received the kick-off and, after a short return, began an offensive drive on their 25 yard line. Max, who wears number 88, lined up on defense. The Raiders attempted a run around the left side of line and Max wrapped his right arm around the half-back in an attempt to make the tackle.

“When I was about to bring him down, various players were piling up, and I was towards the bottom,” said Max.

 When the play ended, Max relaxed his body and anticipated  a whistle. Then a sudden jolt came from his blindside and his helmet flew off. After that it was all “a blur.” What Max wouldn’t realize until later is that he had suffered a serious concussion.
Concussions have become more and more common in recent years. A major factor that underlies this increase is that a greater number of students are participating in sports. Some 7.5 million high school students now participate in sports, which results in more potential concussions.  In fact, sports are the second leading cause of head injuries, following motor vehicle crashes. A concussion is a result of a blow to the head that causes it to move back and forth. 
Concussions vary in severity. They can be very minor and relatively harmless on one hand, yet extremely serious on the other. It turns out that Max experienced a very serious concussion that caused him to lose his short term memory and alter his speech. Max also required treatment away from school for 3 months. He has also had to encounter many other very serious side effects. Max’s concussion was a complete surprise. His experience suggests that high school athletes need to be aware of the potential risks concussions pose.
 Concussions can affect your life in many ways. They can have an impact on your life physically and emotionally. Emotionally, they can cause real stress in people’s lives. Owen Jones, a multiport athlete, had to hang up his cleats and helmet after getting four concussions. He can’t play any contact sports anymore. His concussions had a big impact in his life because he had to give up the sports he loved. His concussions also caused stress for his parents and two sisters. They started noticing that he was acting different and was sleepy all the time.

“I knew something was wrong. I wasn’t seeing the brother I know and love,” said Owen’s older sister Elena.

 After taking Owen to the doctor and getting medicine and plenty of rest, Owen was back to normal aside from the occasional headaches and other pains. Owen is now forced to stick to sports that don’t involve contact.
Concussions can happen in many high school sports such as football, softball, soccer, and basketball. It is no surprise that the sport that accumulates the most concussions is football. With so much helmet to helmet contact in football, concussions happen frequently.
A majority of  the concussions that occur in high school sports happen in football. “When someone gets a concussion in football we try to keep it under the radar from people outside the team, but everything is taken care of by the trainer,” said Will Avdellas, a varsity football player. You may think boys get more concussions than boys, but actually in similar girls and boys sports (like girls basketball vs. boys basketball and softball vs. baseball) girls account for more concussions than boys.  Surprisingly, the next sport in line is girl’s soccer. “There are a lot of concussions because we go up for headers frequently,” said Abbey Downey, a varsity girl’s soccer player. There are many other sports that fall in the middle range of high school concussions, but the sports that account for the least are cheerleading and baseball.
When someone gets a concussion during a high school sports game, the athletic trainers tend to them. One of the student trainers from Tuscarora is Abbey Fulcer. “We have a paper full of concussion symptoms and signs and we have to check to see if they have a concussion by giving multiple tests,” said Abbey. If the trainers can determine if the athlete has a concussion, the athlete may have to be sent home and possibly go the hospital. “After that, the athlete has to sit out of physical contact for at least  a week and then they can slowly ease into activity until the signs of the concussion are gone,” said Fulcer.
The bottom line is even though concussion are bound to happen with so many high school students involved in sports, they aren’t something that should be taken lightly and they can be fatal if you don’t do something about them.