The game of football is a dangerous one. There is no other sport that pits fully equipped players in a protective suit of armor running at full speed to tackle another player carrying a ball. Injuries are frequent in this game that sometime resembles gladiator battles.
While the ferocity of the game is extreme on the field of battle, the sideline at a football game is an equally dangerous place, and should always be treated with respect and an always on-guard mentality.
In my 25 years of being on football fields I’ve seen many collisions on a sideline. I’ve seen players, coaches, equipment managers, trainers, band members, cheerleaders, and a few tables taken out by the momentum of a sideline tackle.
Former Penn State coach Joe Paterno suffered a broken leg on the sidelines during a game against Wisconsin, and NFL chain-crew member Al Natasi Jr. suffered a head injury during a game in New Orleans. Both of those men were doing a job and knew the inherent risk of being on an active sideline.
But this past week at the East-West All-Star Game in Greensboro I witnessed what I have to say was the most dangerous collision I’ve seen, and one that most definitely should have been prevented.
9-year old Jasper Duke was on the sidelines of the game when in an instant she was caught up in the tackle of Sha’Quann Johnson, a Thomasville running back who was being forced out of bounds by an East defender.
Fortunately the young girl was okay and walked off the field on her on power but the situation could have been much worse.
As a person who has been on the sideline for hundreds and hundreds of games, I realize that you sometimes have kids on a sideline. Most of them are usually the kids of coaches, some of whom serve as ball-boys. But could this collision open the eyes of administrators that the sidelines are no place for children?
I think it should.
I feel we should use this unfortunate event as a teaching tool that kids have no business on the sideline of a football game. Most schools do a great job of policing this already but some schools will let nearly anyone stand on the sidelines. You always have former players or former coaches who want to be close to the action but if you’re not part of the game, whether as a player, coach, administrator, medical, or media personnel, you should stick to the stands for your own safety.
(Photo Credit: Keith Coward - CarolinaPreps.com)
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