As a mother of three student- athletes, it was a dream when my son, Omahri Jarrett, received an offer to play college football for the Georgia Institute of Technology (GA Tech) located in Atlanta. Playing college football and receiving a top-tier education is something many parents and young boys dream about and few actually experience. My family and I have witnessed him grow from a ‘tot’ playing Pop Warner football and learning the game to becoming a young man delivering (and receiving) big hits on the gridiron in high school.
The journey has been amazing and scary at times. Omahri has played football for the past 11 years. Even after all this time, there still isn’t a game where I’m not concerned with his safety. One hit and he could suffer life-altering injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. emergency departments treat an estimated 173,285 sports- and recreation-related TBIs, including concussions, among children and adolescents, from birth to 19 years annually. Nearly 4 million high school students nationwide suffer head injuries every year.
The violence of football has always been a matter of concern and the sport has seen periodic attempts at safety and reform. To settle federal lawsuits filed by former student- athletes, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) now impose strict new guidelines for diagnosing and managing players who suffer concussions and other head injuries – including the requirement that all athletes undergo a baseline neuro-cognitive test every year before entering competition. In fact, Virginia Tech researchers have conducted comprehensive testing on football helmets – both in the lab and on the football field.
That’s why I’m proud to be a part of the amazing work Banyan is doing to support helmet safety for athletes like Omahri. Banyan has worked with CDC to create free tools that provide important information on preventing, recognizing, and responding to a concussion. Some of these valuable resources include a free, interactive training for coaches; Heads Up to Parents, a website with resources for parents; an interactive helmet app; and resources for athletes, clinicians, and schools.
I know I’m a bit biased, but I think the work Banyan is doing in this area is phenomenal. Not only does it raise awareness of an issue very dear to me, it also provides peace of mind.
It’s nice to know my son’s coaches have access to important information that can help keep him safe. In the fall of 2015, Omahri Jarrett will enter GA Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium knowing that his safety is a priority. I’m proud to have played a small part in helping that happen.
Go Yellow Jackets!!
(2014, May 29). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved July 28, 2014, from http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/HeadsUp/.