PBS NewsHour Extra
In a sports culture where on-field performance is paramount and kids
just want to play, often players try to hide their injuries to stay in
According to the National Academy of Sciences, there are 11 recorded
concussions for every 10,000 high school games and practices, twice the
rate of college players. But researchers believe the number is actually
much higher because many go unreported.
“I have had about 15 to 20 concussions, and I have only reported
four,” said one anonymous player at Austin High School in Austin,
Texas. While that number is based on personal experience rather than
medical evidence, any concussion can lead to memory loss, sleep
problems and changes in behavior.
“Sixteen-year-old kid, you’re invincible,” said Chuck Cook, a
graduate of Black River Falls High School in Wisconsin. “You want to
get back on the field as quickly as you can. And a concussion, you
can’t get — you get a headache, but you really don’t feel it. It is not
like a sprained ankle.”
Cook said that while in high school, he and his friends would cheat
the so-called imPACT test, a set of associations and memory questions
used to diagnose concussions.
“I did not take the impact test seriously. My freshman sophomore
year, I tested low on purpose. I didn’t want to have to sit out a
football game because I had a concussion,” he explained.
It was only after Montana player Dylan Steigers died after a hard
hit in 2010 that his parents pushed for a state law called the Dylan
Steigers Protection of Youth Athletes Act that requires each school
district to text for concussions and set guidelines for when an athlete
can start playing again.
“We will never recover,” said Dylan’s mother Cyndi Steigers. “But we
can do — if you can do something positive in your life to help somebody
else, that’s very healing.”
1. What do you know about concussions?
2. Why do researchers believe that concussions are under-reported in
high school sports?
3. Is there a risk of permanent damage when someone gets a concussion?
4. Imagine you are a high school football player and you get knocked
out during your state champion final’s game in the third quarter and
the game is tied. Do you tell the truth about your concussion and sit
it out or would you lie to get back into the game?