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Like many things in life, for athletes who play dangerous sports, it all comes down to risk versus reward. For some athletes, the pros that sports provided were simply worth any risk they may carry.
Sophomore football player RJ Franzen of Allentown said his enjoyment of his sport outweighs the possible risk.
“I know [injuries are] not a certainty, and it’s fun [to play] and to hang out with my friends that I don’t see every day,” Franzen said. He does know the consequences of being injured, though, as his brother suffered a concussion in two consecutive seasons.
On average, about 175,000 children were admitted into emergency rooms every year for concussions due to dangerous sports such as lacrosse, wrestling, football, hockey, basketball and soccer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Concussions can create chemical changes in the brain, damage to brain cells, increase sleep disturbances, cause irritability and elicit trouble concentrating, according to BrainLine.
Contact sports such as football, wrestling and boxing especially put players at risk, due to the frequency in which the athletes come into contact with each other. Even sports with less contact, such as baseball and soccer, can be dangerous due to injuries from accidental contact with things such as the ball, ground or other players.
These facts can cause parents to become hesitant to allow their children to begin to play these sports. Freshman football player Michael LaRocca knows that firsthand, as his mother almost didn’t let him play due to the dangers.
“My mom was very wary of letting me play [football] because she was afraid of all the concussions,” LaRocca said. “But after awhile she let me go through with it and I was able to stay safe throughout the season.”
LaRocca, like Franzen, plays because of the enjoyment of the sport and the benefit of connecting with his home high school. He believes the risks were worth the reward.
“If you [don’t] count getting a really bad jammed finger … I have not been seriously injured,” LaRocca explained.
LaRocca, like many athletes, has chosen to keep his fingers crossed when it comes to dangerous sports. Dangers of sports often leaves safety up to chance. But, for some athletes, the reward outweighs the risk.