‘Big hits’ put high school football players at risk

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 11:26 PM CDT
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BROOKLAND, Ark. (KAIT) - Whether in a game or in practice, student football players risk injury every time they hit the field.

Injuries are rising with the increasing popularity of “big hits,” or tackles.

Some players are not taught how to hit properly until high school.

Michael Stinnett knows this all too well. He is a former football player and a father of a Brookland football player.

“Sometimes you just have a mentality, kind of maybe like I had, just hit them hard, and that can lead to a lot of hurt for kids in that capacity,” said Stinnett.

Over the past two weeks, two players in Northeast Arkansas were airlifted to the hospital with serious injuries, including one at his son’s school.

As a precaution, the district has a personal trainer present at practices to respond immediately in case of a serious injury.

“It is not something they practice every day,” said Brian Griffith, the school’s athletic trainer. “I think, as trainers, we take a lot of the burden off them.”

Griffith deals with everything from sprained ankles to spinal and brain injuries.

During a game, coaches are stressed. Wondering what play to run next. Making substitutions run properly, so they cannot pay very much attention to players with a sprained ankle or another type of injury.

“If you need physical therapy, then go to physical therapy, or I can take care of you right here, and it just takes a lot of the burden off the coaches,” said Griffith.

Stinnett could not be happier to have a trained and experienced athletic trainer on standby.

“To have someone paying attention to them coming in and paying attention to them coming off the field and going on the field, it is invaluable,” he said.