OPINION: High school athletics remain important despite potential head injuries

By Allison Bleakley

Between the years 2009-2014 a federal law was passed called “return-to-play.” According to Milken Institute School of Public Health, the return-to-play law indicates that athletes should immediately stop playing if a concussion is suspected. Players may return to practice or competition only after a health care provider has evaluated and cleared an athlete after 24 hours. Even with laws and policies made by medical professionals, the question is asked why a community continues to encourage sports that cause concussions.

At Batavia High School, there are 23 sports available for students to participate in. Athletics give students an opportunity to be a part of a team and to make friends. As a student-athlete at Batavia High School, I am able to play the sport I love with my friends. I am also able to be coached by coaches that make me a better player.

BHS requires students to take a physical education class, one of these classes being Accel P.E. Accel is a class available to students, mainly athletes, as an opportunity to become stronger and to prevent injury. Along with the many physical education teachers, BHS also has many athletic trainers to help athletes with injury and provide those athletes with the right kind of care.

Because of athletics at Batavia, many students are able to continue playing sports in college, some athletes including Glenn Albanese who has continued his baseball career at the University of Louisville. Megan McEachern and Jenny Scara who are currently both playing soccer at Illinois State University. Cole Gardner who graduated from BHS in 2012 and went on to continue his football career at Eastern Michigan. Gardner also signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and many more. Many current athletes and past athletes at BHS have been able to continue their paths in athletics,and they wouldn’t be able to do it without athletics at BHS making them better and stronger athletes, and the support of their parents, coaches, and community.

Yes, injuries are a serious problem that are and should be recognized by the community and students and coaches. But is an injury enough to stop engaging in sports and athletics?

Board member John Dryden questioned the community’s encouragement of high school sports that cause concussions in a board meeting on Jan. 23. Dryden showed his support for a new policy which stated that athletes are not to return to play without release from a medical professional, extending on the medical professional to a doctor or a PA. After the policy was stated, Dryden acknowledged the accomplishments of the Batavia Football Team and coaches, and then further questioned, “Why do we engage, we have our students engage, in activities where we know that they are more likely to be inured?”

The reason the community should continue to engage in athletics is because students are able to do what they love. Parents and coaches are able to watch these athletes grow as a player and as an individual and to see them reach their goals as a student and a player. Losing the support of the community will also lose the drive and the motivation of an athlete to become a better sports player and individual. Athletes understand the risks they are taking playing the sport they do, but it’s not stopping them, and it shouldn’t stop the community to keep encouraging these athletes to do what they love.

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