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College Football: The Most Dangerous Pastime?

Football season is here again. On game day, fans across Florida have team colors flying, ticket holders are tailgating, crowds are cheering and two teams of well-honed college athletes are poised to hit the gridiron for an exciting game full of hard hits and heart-stopping action.

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Is football our most dangerous game?

Ideally, every player who took one of those hard hits would get up and walk away without a scratch. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case. Despite the fact that high-profile, serious (sometimes even fatal) injuries happen every year, football remains wildly popular, with hundreds of thousands of loyal fans packing stadiums, bars and private homes to watch their favorite teams.

When injuries occur, though, that same game-day chaotic energy can make it difficult to determine whether any negligence was involved on the part of the coaches, the school or third parties. Furthermore, even if negligence is uncovered, it can be a long road to seek justice for injuries caused by the negligent or reckless behavior of coaches, school officials or third parties. The difficulties in the system are personified by the tragic case of former University of Central Florida running back Ereck Plancher.

The Plancher wrongful death case

Back in 2008, Ereck Plancher was just like any of Florida's college football players: full of life, blessed with athleticism and dedicated to his sport. He was with his team, participating in an off-season conditioning drill, when he fell ill. Apparently the coach and other members of the staff ignored his distress. He died a short time later of complications from sickle cell anemia. The actions of the coaching staff are puzzling, especially given that the school had a detailed procedure in place for treating a player with that particular genetic trait.

Not only did Plancher's death highlight the issue of the seriousness of college football injuries, but it also pointed out the importance of having coaches and staff who will listen to the distress of injured players, without trying to convince them to "play through the pain," and who also have the knowledge necessary to either give aid or seek it elsewhere.

Other troubling injuries

Because of attention given to National Football League (NFL) players who suffered numerous head injuries on the gridiron - and the recent settlement reached between the thousands of players who had filed a class action suit against the league - nearly everyone is aware of the dangers of repeated blows to the heads of professional players.

A report released earlier this year by the renowned Cleveland Clinic shows that those blows can be just as dangerous to college players as they are to professional players. In fact, the study shows that players who received repeated blows to the head while at a young age were vulnerable to significant long-term brain damage even if they were never actually diagnosed with or treated for one or more concussions.

There are also stories, seemingly every football season, highlighting how players at the peak of their athletic lives endure that one-in-a-million blow that results in a serious broken bone orspinal cord injury and could have life-altering effects. Not only could one of these injuries put a player out for a season, but it also might end his career altogether or leave him paralyzed.

Seeking answers

Was your child injured playing high school or college football? Do you have questions about how to hold negligent coaches, referee staff, stadium staff or school officials responsible for their part? For more information about seeking justice for football or other school athletics-related injuries, seek the advice of an experienced Florida personal injury attorney in your area.

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