There's nothing quite like Friday night lights; eleven on eleven, a battle for every yard. This time it's Hutch Tech taking on Orchard Park. But, sometimes, the battle scars from the field can last a lifetime.
More and more research is being done on head injuries and concussions and how it can effect athletes later in life. According to the New York State Health Department, it is estimated 4,000 high school athletes suffer from a concussion every year in New York. A number that doesn't thrill the mother of any football player.
Rose Balrow has been watching her son, Sean Faulk, play football for over a decade and is well aware of the danger of head injuries. She says she helped get better helmets for her son’s team when he was younger.
“There were a couple of kids that drew attention to it that there needed to be more done,” said Barlow.
Faulk's older brother used to play football as well.
“I remember getting a concussion in high school and no one even asked me anything. And I only knew it was a concussion after just reading up on the symptoms,” said Marc Hairston.
Hairston believes the responsibility is on everyone, including the players, to make the sport safer.
“You've got some players who are too prideful and won't admit that, or just don't know. So, you have to have people who are going to pay attention to those players,” added Hairston.
Right now, Erie County is mandating coaches take special training so they can recognize concussion symptoms. Concussion protocols are on a school by school basis in New York, if an athlete shows a sign of concussion, they’re sidelined for a day. If it is indeed a concussion, an athlete must take it slow for at least a week after symptoms have stopped.
As long as sports are played, including football, there will always be a chance for concussions. The key now is to keep them at a minimum.