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Some athletes have left football for safety issue

10/02/2014, 8:31pm PDT
By Kirk Kenney

It's another reason rosters are shrinking in San Diego Unified School District

When Patrick Henry football coach Mike Martinez was on the Patriots roster 33 years ago, they called it “getting your bell rung” when a player took a hit to the head.

“Now it is concussion-like symptoms,” said Martinez.

Martinez, Serra coach Brian Basteyns and Scripps Ranch coach Joe Meyer all said the focus on concussions the past three years has made an impact at their schools.

The issue is no greater than other reasons for reduced roster numbers, but it is something coaches didn’t have to deal with a decade ago.

Each coach said he has lost some players because of parents’ concerns for the safety of the sport. They’ve lost others who suffered a concussion and out of an abundance of caution were advised by a doctor not to play anymore.

“We have some kids who are seniors now who would be playing,” said Meyer, “but because they got a concussion as freshmen they’re not playing.”

Basteyns said he has one player whose father “wants no part of coming to his games because of fear of injury.”

The Serra coach estimated there are six to eight kids on the team whose parents are very, very concerned.

“The funny thing is we have a lot of dads who don’t want kids playing and moms who do,” said Basteyns.

Only one player suffered a concussion at Serra last year, said Basteyns, and it wasn’t during a game. It was before a practice when two players were throwing a ball around and someone got hit in the head with it.

Basteyns emphasized his concern for player safety, but said he believes the issue has been overplayed by “the media and what’s going on with the NFL and the concussion situation.”

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