High School Football Player Dies from Head Injury

by

On Friday, a a 16-year-old high school lineman in New York state died after suffering from a traumatic brain injury during a game. According to the coroner, Ridge Barden suffered a massive subdural hematoma after a particularly hard helmet-to-helmet hit.

Increased attention to head injuries in football, from high school to the pros, has resulted new laws across the country, including a recent one passed in New York. But it’s rare that a player dies from a head injury sustained on the field; the Post reports that each year, a “handful” of high school football players are fatally injured while playing.

Ridge Barden’s mother Jacqueline insisted that the opposing team’s players were not at fault. “[Ridge] just would not want those people to think that it was their fault.¬† It was just an accident,” she told the media.

But, as we explored in Football High last April, there is a growing concern that helmet-to-helmet hits are too prevalent among inexperienced high school players.

Gregg Easterbrook, a writer and ESPN columnist, told us that helmets are too often used as a weapon in high school. “If players were tossed out of games for deliberate helmet-to-helmet contact, it would go down pretty quickly,” he said.

Or these hits may just be the result of poor technique among inexperienced players. “What you’ll find is, they will launch into a play, and they will lead with their helmet,” says Tom Talavage, a professor who studies brain injuries in high school football players. “Other players will more correctly keep their head up, try to get their arms up as a blocking technique, or when they’re rushing, they will try to get their arms up as a means to push the offensive lineman out of the way. Those technique differences lead to a very large difference in the total number of blows experienced and where those blows are experienced on the head.”

Players, coaches and parents can learn more on how to protect against head injuries and other issues that affect the health and safety of high school football players here.

blog comments powered by Disqus

In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.

SUPPORT PROVIDED BY

NEXT ON FRONTLINE

The Rise of ISISOctober 28th

FRONTLINE on

ShopPBS
Frontline Journalism Fund

Supporting Investigative Reporting

Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Major funding for FRONTLINE is provided by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Park Foundation, The Ford Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, and the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation.
PBSCPBMacArthur FoundationPark FoundationFord Foundationwyncote

FRONTLINE   Watch FRONTLINE   About FRONTLINE   Contact FRONTLINE
Privacy Policy   Journalistic Guidelines   PBS Privacy Policy   PBS Terms of Use   Corporate Sponsorship
FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of WGBH Educational Foundation.
Web Site Copyright ©1995-2014 WGBH Educational Foundation
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.