At first glance, it seems that the Milken football program has a bright future ahead of it. After its celebrated launch in 2011, students were extremely excited to be a part of the American tradition of high school football. After the team’s success over the past few years, it seems clear that Milken football is here to stay. However, the financial consequences and many safety concerns bring about an issue: Should Milken terminate its football team?
Concussions are the most notorious of football injuries, causing brain damage that affects athletes’ lives in the present and future. A 2013 study conducted by the U.S. National Institutes of Health suggests that months after concussion symptoms, such as dizziness, headaches and memory loss, fade, the brain continues to show signs of injury. Other research conducted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science proves that there is abnormal brain wave activity for years after a concussion, which can lead to significant attention problems.
At a school like Milken, which preaches sharp minds and forward thinking, it is questionable that a tackle football team should have the right to exist with this new information available about how concussions can affect an athlete for life.
Concussions are not the only dangerous injuries common in an extreme contact sport like tackle football. Fractures, broken bones, and knee injuries to the ACL and PCL are also extremely common in football.
When asked about the safety issues of the team, Mr. Fred Proctor, Head of Athletics at Milken, noted that “there is an inherent risk in playing any sport and football is one of those sports.”
Regarding this issue, Stevie Gordon ‘17, wide receiver for the Milken football team, commented, “I choose to take the risk of injury, despite being fully aware of the consequences, because football is one of my passions.”
In addition to safety issues, some are concerned about the possible financial consequences for the school due to the football team. They worry that excessive spending on the football program takes away from funds for academics or other sports. However, Mr. Proctor explained, “Football is no more expensive than any other sport because there was an initial donation for the football team that took away from the spending now. Now it’s just about the maintaining. We certainly wouldn’t cut finance of one sport to promote another sport.”
There is another relevant argument in discussing the future existence of Milken’s tackle football team: Unlike many other sports, tackle football is difficult to pursue outside high school. For students who are extremely passionate about football, the disbandment of the tackle football team would result in immense disappointment. Also, for many Milken students who aspire to play football at the collegiate level, it is essential to be able to participate on a high school team.
Charlie Heller ’12 is a prime example of this kind of student. Heller, a former Milken quarterback who desired to play college football, made the Indiana University football team. The Milken alum was a fervent supporter of the Milken football team’s inception.
So, what do you think about the future existence of the football team?