As public outrage grows over the prevalence of head injuries sustained by football players across the country, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced yesterday at Erasmus Hall High School (911 Flatbush Avenue) that New York Giants Chairman Steve Tisch has donated $1.2 million to the city’s public schools to help protect student athletes.
Joined by Councilman Mathieu Eugene, Assemblywoman-elect Rodneyse Bichotte, and other elected officials, de Blasio said the donation to the Public Schools Athletic League, which includes more than 40,000 public school students in nearly 30 different sports, will provide 53 new certified trainers and EMTs to oversee all contact football practices at schools with varsity and junior varsity teams. As a result, nearly 3,500 high school football players will have trained personnel at their practices, ensuring a swift response to an injury, the mayor said.
“For any parent, watching a child take the field is a proud moment, but no matter how old our kids get, we still worry about their safety,”said de Blasio, who was flanked by players from Erasmus Hall and Abraham Lincoln High School (2800 Ocean Parkway) – teams that will face off in the PSAL playoffs on December 9 at Yankee Stadium. This donation means thousands of our student-athletes will have extra support at practices to stay safe. We thank Steve Tisch for giving back and investing in the next generation of athletes.”
The announcement comes at a time of growing anger and concern over football-related injuries. After long denying that players had high rates of brain damage, officials from the National Football League recently admitted that it “expects nearly a third of retired players to develop long-term cognitive problems and that the conditions are likely to emerge at ‘notably younger ages’ than in the general population,” the New York Times reported in September.
Following a class action lawsuit filed by about 5,000 former football players, the NFL has agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to the ex-athletes who accused the league of turning a blind eye to the dangers of head injuries individuals sustained while playing the sport.
High school football programs are also being closely monitored when it comes to injuries, and yesterday a former Illinois high school football player filed a class-action lawsuit against the Illinois High School Association over its management of concussions – the first-ever class action lawsuit filed against a state high school association, CNN reported.
“Organized sports are great for kids, keeping them physically active, teaching them about teamwork, and helping build self-confidence,” Tisch said. “But as a parent, I too have concerns about keeping kids safe. Having certified athletic trainers present on the sidelines will play a critical role in keeping young athletes active, healthy and on the playing field.”
In a press release issued by the mayor’s office, the city said:
There are 53 high schools with varsity and junior varsity football programs. Through the Steve Tisch Athletic Trainer Program, which began placing EMTs and trainers in schools this season, all 53 schools will receive a trainer or EMT for eight hours of contact practices weekly through the next football season. The PSAL provides doctors on the field at league games, but most schools do not have medical personnel available for contact practices, where there can still be a risk of concussion or other injury.
Eugene said in the same press release that he too is grateful for the donation:
As a doctor, I have long been concerned about the permanent effects that poorly assessed sports-related injuries have on young lives. We can all rest easier knowing that, as a result of this $1.2 million contribution, 3,500 high school football players will have certified trainers and EMTs looking out for their best interests.
Photo via Mayor de Blasio’s office.