UPDATE, November 13, 2013: Last Saturday, Charles Youvella, the son of the athletic director of Hopi High school in Keams Canyon, Arizona, scored the only touchdown for his team in a 60-0 regional playoff game with Arizona Lutheran Academy. USA Today reported: Midway through the fourth quarter, Youvella caught a pass and was taken down in what officials said appeared to be a typical football tackle. On the way down, the back of Youvella's head hit the ground hard. Witnesses said Youvella got right back to his feet and lined up for two more plays before collapsing on the field.
Monday, he died of a traumatic brain injury.
As reported by the Associated Press and posted on ESPN: [Two weeks ago] The Institute of Medicine and National Research Council ...called for a national system to track sports-related concussions and answer questions about concussions in youth and school sports, particularly football. The report, "Sports-Related Concussions in Youth: Improving the Science, Changing the Culture," revealed that the reported concussion rate for the average high school football player is nearly twice that of a college player, and far outpaces that of other high school sports. The report said [that in 2009] 250,000 people nationwide age 19 and younger were treated in emergency rooms for concussions and other sports- or recreation-related brain injuries... an increase from 150,000 in 2001. [emphases ours]
The [authors of the IMNRC report] found little evidence that current sports helmet designs reduce the risk of concussions. It stressed that properly fitted helmets, face masks, and mouth guards should still be used, because they reduce the risk of other injuries -- such as skull fractures; bleeding inside the skull; and injuries to the eyes, face, and mouth. The marketing for some protective devices designed for youth athletes, such as mouth guards and headbands for soccer, has advertised that these devices reduce concussion risk, but there is a lack of scientific evidence to support such claims, the committee said.
Citing California statistics on EdSource today, Jane Meredith Adams notes:
...More than 3,000 of the 102,500 high school football players in California are expected to suffer a concussion this year, based on national prevalence rates cited by USA Football, a nonprofit organization whose funders include the National Football League... In California, high schools are not legally required, even under [AB 1451 and AB 588; see history of recent state laws below the jump] to collect data on concussion injuries. And under-reporting remains a problem, the Institute of Medicine report said, in part because of a sports culture that discourages athletes from admitting they have a concussion, an internal injury that can be difficult for observers to detect...
In fact, the IMNRC was more emphatic than that, as the title of the report, "...Improving the Science, Changing the Culture," makes clear. Even clearer within the study, authors Robert Graham, Frederick P. Rivara, Morgan A. Ford, and Carol Mason Spicer, using the phrase "culture of resistance" when referring to youth athletic programs, write:
...The culture of sports negatively influences athletes' self-reporting of concussion symptoms and their adherence to return-to-play guidance. Athletes, their teammates, and, in some cases, coaches and parents may not fully appreciate the health threats posed by concussions. Similarly, military recruits are immersed in a culture that includes devotion to duty and service before self, and the critical nature of concussions may often go unheeded. According toSports-Related Concussions in Youth, if the youth sports community can adopt the belief that concussions are serious injuries and emphasize care for players with concussions until they are fully recovered, then the culture in which these athletes perform and compete will become much safer...