It’s a fact of life. When kids play contact sports, injuries can occur. The risk of becoming injured is why athletes – whether they’re professional baseball players or high school football players – don protective gear. Nothing, of course, completely eliminates the risk of injury, but wearing protective gear greatly diminishes it.
Shenai McLorn believes that her son Demond’s football coach, Darren Sunkett, ignored the potential for injury by providing her son with a defective football helmet and ordering him to play without protective gear. As a result, Demond experienced a number of seizures and strokes while sitting on the sidelines at a game last October.
According to a report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, McLorn claims her son, who plays football at East St. Louis High School, suffers from serious and permanent head injuries as a result of the coach’s and school district’s negligence. She seeks more than $200,000 in compensation for Demond’s injuries, which required him to be hospitalized for several weeks. Doctors who operated on Demond found that he suffered from a ruptured blood vessel inside his brain.
McLorn’s lawsuit says that the protective cushion inside her son’s helmet was not properly inflated. It also says that Sunkett ordered Demond to play even after he complained of a headache and showed signs of concussion.
The lawsuit also asserts that Sunkett “ridiculed and sought to embarrass student-athletes who suffered injuries, thus creating an atmosphere where injuries were not reported or under-reported.”
According to the Post-Dispatch, a few weeks before Demond’s hospitalization, Sunkett ordered Demond to practice tackling even though he and another player weren’t wearing safety gear. Demond broke his collar bone in the incident. The other player broke his neck.
Playing sports is the leading cause of concussion and other brain injuries in children. Contact sports are especially dangerous when played without a helmet and other protective gear. According to the Brain Injury Association of America, multiple concussions can have cumulative and long lasting effects on a child’s life. About 1.4 million children receive a traumatic brain injury of some degree every year. Football, bicycling, basketball, soccer, and playground activities account for most of the brain injuries children receive.