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Sunday, October 23, 2011

An Ordinary Football Game, Then a Player Dies

By Jorge Castillo
The New York Times

Football coaches and school administrators at John C. Birdlebough High School congregated in a small room off the library Monday, huddling around a computer for a most painful and unusual review of game video. They examined every play that one student was involved in, assuming the role of medical examiners.

They were trying to discern which collision of the hundreds in a football game at Homer High School on Friday night might have caused Ridge Barden, a 16-year-old defensive tackle, to fall to the turf in the third quarter and die within a few hours. The coroner attributed Barden’s death to a subdural hematoma, or a brain bleed.

“There’s nothing here; there’s still nothing there; there’s nothing there; there’s nothing there — and now he’s laying on his stomach,” Jeff Charles, the head coach, said while watching the sequence frame by frame.
As those who play and coach football learn new ways to improve safety — through training, medical response and equipment — sometimes they are left to contemplate this: brains remain vulnerable, and even the most ordinary collisions on the field can kill.

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Barden’s father, Jody, said he had no objection to the sport in the wake of his son’s death.

“I just don’t want a negative spin on this,” Mr. Barden said Sunday. “There is no blame in this. I don’t want to scare kids from playing the game. Ridge loved playing the game, and I know he wouldn’t want it to get a bad name.”

The entire story can be read here.

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