New York High School Stops Football Season After Player Dies. Are Youth Sports Too Dangerous?

September 27, 2013  |  
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Damon Janes was a 16-year-old who loved playing football for his high school. But early in the season, that love ended up taking his life. After voting, the players of the Westfield-Brocton Wolverines decided they were just too heartbroken to continue playing without their teammate.

Janes was hit hard in the third quarter of the September 13 game he was helping his team recover. Game officials say he was taken down by a helmet-to-helmet hit. He was able to walk off the field but passed out once he reached the sidelines. Janes died in the hospital three days later. Quarterback Stevie Wisecarver III told NBC, “I wanted to play, I love the game. But it just wouldn’t feel right without him. The team just didn’t feel right.”

Even as they mourned Janes’ death, parents pointed out that “poor officiating, with no penalty calls on late hits, made it only a matter of time before ball carriers like Damon got hurt.” Even as the game’s governing organizations emphasize the “Heads Up” tackling technique in the interest of safety, the American Journal of Sports Medicine still reports that an average of 12 college and high school football players die each year. Damon Janes was the fifth player to die after a game this season but his team is the only one that decided to cut its season short.

This death has parents looking hard at the activities they feel safe letting their kids participate in. Do you let your kids play football and other contact sports? Do you worry about their safety?


Photo: Aspen Photo /

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