The impact of concussions on student life

Image from Jeffery Antony.

Athletics are a crucial part of the high school experience, with events like the Homecoming football game usually being jam-packed. However, there is a dark underbelly to sports at Washington High School. Many students suffer from injuries that hamper their learning and athletic participation and potentially have life-long impacts. 

Of particular concern are concussions, defined by the American Medical Association as “a type of traumatic brain injury that can result from a bump, blow, or jolt to the head.” Concussions caused by athletic participation in a school setting numbered 222,757 in 2021 according to a study conducted by the National Federation of High School Associations, the body that governs the rules of competition for most high school sports. 

Concussions can range from minor blows to injuries that can cause permanent cognitive impairment. The impact on cognitive performance is widely documented, with the National Institute on Aging finding that concussions and head trauma at a young age have “possible connections to neurodegenerative conditions like chronic traumatic encephalopathy and Alzheimer’s disease.” Many students who have gone through these experiences report struggles with their studies, with four-year Washington High School football player Vivek Krovvidi saying that his concussions “slightly impacted academic performance, as recovery does take some time.” 

Mr. Krovvidi noted that his concussions were minor, having little impact on his studies. However, Nikitha Boosi, a senior on Washington High School’s Varsity Lacrosse team, detailed her experiences with a concussion she received after a ball struck her head during practice, saying she is “unable to properly learn, and cannot focus on anything without getting a headache, making learning very difficult.” 

With all the drastic consequences head injuries bring, a solution must be found for preventing them. Concussions can be prevented in high school sports through better maintenance of fields, increased padding on structures like goal posts, and proper protective equipment. However, as Washington High School’s football coach Fernando Sotelo noted, in order to make sports safer, “the district needs to be involved, because the schools can’t do it on their own. We can’t raise the money to buy safer equipment for the athletes if the district doesn’t get involved.” He went on to say that “the district doesn’t really care about athletics in Fremont,” which is a drastic problem as athletics are a major part of the high school experience. 

Injuries in sports are inevitable; it is a risk that players need to be willing to accept in order to engage in athletics, but it is in no way an excuse for districts to disregard proper protections with the excuse that injuries “just happen.” If athletics are going to continue to be an important part of student life, they need to be made safer, which is something that can only be done through a substantial effort by district officials.

Atharva Sonune, currently in his Junior Year, has had a diverse upbringing that spans India, Ohio, and California. Embarking on his inaugural year at the paper, Atharva brings a fervent curiosity for journalism. His passions encompass a wide array of topics, including emerging technology, economics, and politics. Beyond the world of writing, Atharva actively engages as a dedicated DECA member, is interested in guitar, and loves to edit videos. He wishes to hone his photography skills and is currently focusing on getting ready for college applications next year.

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