What parents, coaches think about football and its risks

  • Lake Zurich High School head football coach Luke Mertens talks to players during a practice.

    Lake Zurich High School head football coach Luke Mertens talks to players during a practice. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Updated 10/6/2017 2:12 PM

"It's definitely a fabric of our society. You look at what a gathering place it is. Look at the Super Bowl. It's nearly a holiday. I get the (safety) concern. I get why people are afraid. I don't see numbers going up right now. I think football coaches, football players and parents who support (the sport) need to think outside the box and say, 'What do we need to do to generate interest and save the sport?'"

--Lake Zurich High School head football coach Luke Mertens


"I'm not going to say concussions aren't an issue. It absolutely is. There needs to be a lot more education on proper technique and we've put a lot of emphasis on that. We rarely hit in practice at all."

--Bartlett High School athletic director Jeff Bral

"I think (other) people are just scared of it. You see the NFL players and, obviously, they hit a lot harder than youth football and high school. But there are still some pretty big kids out there playing high school football."

--Michele Kleeman, president of the Bartlett High School football boosters whose son, senior Myles Kleeman, plays on the offensive line

"High school football is different from youth football, high school football is different from college football and high school football is different from professional football. It's imperative that we not let what is or is not happening at other levels of football impact the perceptions of the high school game, because much of the research coming out now seems to indicate that playing in high school is the safest time to play the game."

--Illinois High School Association spokesman Matt Troha

"I'm a parent before I'm a football mom. No sport is worth your health. Every doctor he has seen ... says that if your brain heals, then there is no long-term damage. Now I'm just trying to learn everything I can. I'd be happy if he were the kicker and no one hit him."

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--Cathi Volante, whose son, Don, is a sophomore quarterback at Lake Zurich High School and has suffered three concussions on a football field in the last six years.

"If a kid has three concussions in a two-year period, they should not be allowed to play contact sports again. "

--Dr. Hossam AbdelSalam, pediatric neurologist from Amita Health

"I never tell patients you can't play anymore. We do discuss the risk, but there's more. There are the social benefits, the team benefits; I present info and try to be fair about it. Removing something a child or teenager loves can be problematic, as well."

­--Dr. Nathaniel Jones, orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine expert at Loyola University Medical Center

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