One Last Point: Safety must be paramount

August 20, 2013 08:50 pm

 I guess it wouldn’t be the beginning of football season if we didn’t have at least one dead high school athlete before the season even starts.

It seems as though there is a high school athlete dying every year either from a contact injury — as in the case of Georgia junior DeAntre Turman who died Friday night after a tackle broke his neck — or from heatstroke which has seen a threefold rise over the past 15 years, according to a recent analysis of high school heat-related deaths.

The death of any teenager is a tragedy and, in the case of Turman, a loss, not only for his family, but also for the future fans he may have had. Turman had already been awarded a scholarship to play at University of Kentucky.

Luckily for Brookings-Harbor High School players heatstroke is rarely an issue with temperatures barely reaching the 80s on the hottest days of practice.

But a freak accident, such as the fracture of a vertebra in his neck that resulted in Turman’s death, can happen to anyone at any time.

There is no known way to strengthen vertebrae. The muscles around the vertebrae can be strengthened but there are no workouts that make bones stronger.

According to orthopedic and spinal surgeon Dr. Kenneth Hansraj, a good diet can help the spine to be healthy and a core workout regimen can develop muscles which help to keep it in line.

So what are teens supposed to do? Stop playing football? I don’t think that’s the answer. 

Should they beef up the types of pads and gear that players wear? I don’t think that’s the answer either.

From all accounts, Turman was wearing proper gear and the tackle wasn’t outside the normal parameters. It was just an accident.

I think what has to happen is that we trust our kids to do what’s right for their bodies and trust the coaches to teach proper techniques. We mandate the proper wearing of all pads and gear and then knowing that tragic accidents happen, we hope they don’t..

My heart goes out to the Turman family and I hope that no Bruins are the victims of any accidents this season.