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MHS Football Coach: Sport Has Never Been Safer
Concussions in football have once again become a hot topic after a groundbreaking study this summer, but Milford High School head football coach Anthony Vizakis said now is the perfect time for young athletes to play the game safely.
"I think football is the safest it has ever been," Vizakis said. "The technology that goes into the helmets, the information we know about tackling. We are taking the head out of the game as far as the hitting and tacking goes."
A study by Dr. Ann McKee, chief of neuropathology at the VA Boston Healthcare System and director of the CTE Center at Boston University, published in the New York Times on July 25, found that 99 percent of the brains of deceased NFL players tested showed signs of the neurodegenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. The disease was identified in 110 out of 111 former NFL players. It was also found in three of the 14 high school players and 48 of the 53 college players.
Vizakis said he found the results interesting, but pointed to the sample as evidence of how things are changing.
"The study was among players from the late 1980s and 90s," he said. "The helmets, the way the game is played, it's all different. We are entering a great period where the technology and the helmets are lighter and contour more to the skull to provide better protection."
Football tends to dominate the conversation around concussions, but Milford Athletic Director Peter Boucher said it is not the sport that tends to result in the greatest number of concussions at the high school level and other sports will be taking similar steps to prevent head injuries.
"We know our concussion data is higher in soccer than it is in football," Boucher said. "And I can tell you girls' lacrosse is a year or two away from wearing helmets like the boys do. It's just going to happen because of the collision and contact nature of the sports."
Like most schools, student-athletes at Milford High undergo biannual baseline testing to help coaches and trainers diagnose concussions and better know when an athlete might be ready to get back on the field or on the court after suffering a concussion.
Both Vizakis and Boucher acknowledge there will always be a degree of risk when it comes to playing sports.
"There is a change you can get hurt when you get on your bike or get in the car, there is always a percentage of problems that can happen," Boucher said. "But, for me, the positive side of being on a team and the social, physical, emotional, and cognitive gains you can get from being involved in athletics can last a lifetime."




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