La. congressman wants CDC to study high school football deaths

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - High school football health risks will get a federal examination if New Orleans Congressman Cedric Richmond gets his way. 
On Thursday, Richmond co-introduced a bill to allow the Centers for Disease Control and other medical agencies to study deaths related to the high school sport.

The time-honored tradition has changed drastically in the past several years, focusing more on safety after research and studies linked the game to debilitating head injuries, lingering effects and death.

"Since July 1, 11 high school football players have passed away from causes directly or indirectly related to football," according to a press release from Richmond's office.

"You can't always protect them even though you would like to," parent Delery Nicholas said. His son is a starting defensive back for Ben Franklin. "Sometimes you've got to let the kid be a kid and enjoy what they enjoy and accept it."

"I think the studies are good and I think you do need to be careful, but I think a lot of it is hyped up," Ben Franklin Head Football Coach Wally Scott said.

He welcomes the studies and believes the game is safe if proper technique is taught. Scott did admit that since the research showed the dangers of the sport, fewer kids are signing up to play.

"If you do this with just about anything, you find bad things about everything," Scott said. "You find people on both sides of just about every health issue."

"The idea that this is not a deadly game is a misnomer," Ben Franklin alum and medical doctor Neil Wolfson said.

Wolfson knew a high school student who died of heat exhaustion in the 1960s, and he would like to see more studies, especially at the high school level.

"The kids today are bigger, faster," Wolfson said. "One can only imagine what the energy of a collision must be with these kids. It is a very violent sport."

Richmond would like the CDC to conclude the study with recommendations on how to prevent tragedies in the future. According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research at the University of North Carolina, 1,207 players have died from causes related to football.

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