NW Louisiana (KMSS) — For many, the death of 16 year old Deantre Turman, who broke his neck making a tackle at his high school in suburban Atlanta serves as a reminder of how dangerous football can be.
While football will always be a full contact sport, coaches are working to make it as safe as possible. The main safety precaution comes from teaching children the proper way to tackle. Coach David Feaster, of Bossier City's Parkway High School, always tells his players that neck and spinal cord injuries are the one injury that doctors aren't able to fix, so players need to be extra careful in that area.
That safety concern is also a major one for Desoto Parish Schools, where tackle football starts in 2nd grade. At North Desoto High, Athletic Director Scott Abernathy teaches those coaches and physical education teachers the correct way to teach children how to tackle. By starting children off on the right path, Abernathy hopes tackling with the head up becomes second nature.
Coach Feaster says that teaching safe tackling hasn't changed, but one thing has, and he thinks for the better; technology. Northwest Louisiana is just a hot now as it was decades ago, but now, technology makes it easier to keep players hydrated. Along with that is the advancements to helmets. In the past decade, the price of helmets and more than doubled, and Feaster thinks players are getting what they pay for; in this case, improved helmets.
For these schools, and others, safety is the main goal and priority, but it's not the only one. After all, these schools still want to win games, they just want to do it safely.