High school football death toll continues to rise

By Tyrone Townsend, Staff Writer

Football thrives on athletes employing physical dominance over one another, though overexertion can lead to injury and in some cases, death.

This has recently rung true in high school football as three high-school players have died from football-related injuries in this month alone. Tyrell Cameron of Louisiana, Evan Murray of New Jersey, and Ben Hamm of Oklahoma passed away within three weeks of each other, shortly after sustaining in-game injuries.

Junior Tyrell Cameron of Franklin Parish High School, died Sept. 25 after suffering an injury during the fourth quarter. According to witnesses, Cameron appeared to trip and collided into a blocker on a punt return. Cameron didn’t move after the initial hit and was taken away on a stretcher to the local hospital, where he later passed away.

Murray, a senior at Warren Hills Regional High School, also died the same day after an undisclosed injury during a varsity game. William Heerwagen, a classmate of Evan, is quoted stating that Murray got up from the tackle, then collapsed.

Hamm, a junior at Wesleyan Christian School, died in early September after sustaining a head  injury during the game. After the hit, Hamm was rushed to the hospital and placed in a medically induced coma, but later was pronounced dead due to lack oxygen in his blood.

According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, there have been 77 known cases in which the death of a high school athlete was linked to a football-related injury. In 2014 there were five deaths caused directly by football injuries and 5 more by injuries related to the game.

These events have sparked renewed interest in increasing the safety of the game. Though as coaches know, a risk for athletes remains each time they step onto the field.