August Is Deadliest Month for Young Football Players

*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on HealthDay.

It is an annual rite of summer: sending young men out on football fields across America in the sweltering August heat for grueling practice sessions designed to prepare them for the coming season.

But a new study shows the ritual can be costly if players are pushed too hard. It is the most common way players die of non-traumatic injuries in high school and college football.

Many of these deaths involved conditioning with over-the-top workouts and punishment drills, plus inadequate medical response when a player starts to show signs of distress.

“We found the primary cause of deaths was overexertion of the athletes,” said lead researcher Dr. Barry Boden, from The Orthopaedic Center in Rockville, Md. “A lot of the coaches have free rein to develop whatever exercise programs they want.”

Although deaths from traumatic injuries on the football field have dropped significantly since the 1960s, the number of non-traumatic deaths hasn’t changed.

Boden thinks that reducing the number of deaths requires tailoring workouts to particular player positions and keeping the exertion level to what is expected during play.

“Stop having the football coaches exercise the team as a whole,” he said. “They should be exercising based on body type — the obese athlete should be doing training that basically mimics games.”

Also, punishment drills should be eliminated, Boden said. These drills still go on even though the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) consensus statement says that they should be ended, he noted.

The researchers reviewed 187 deaths in high school and college football that happened between 1998 and 2018. Of these deaths, 52% were from heart problems, 24% from heat, 12% from sickle cell trait, and 5% from asthma.

Overall, most of the player deaths happened before the regular season months of September through December. Deaths are most common in August, the researchers found.

The findings were presented recently at the annual meeting of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, in Boston. Such research should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Source: HealthDay

Help us reach the next generation of families

Back to Top

[reposted by] Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on and Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

  • About HomeWord

    HomeWord helps families succeed by creating Biblical resources that build strong marriages, confident parents, empowered kids and healthy leaders. Founded by Jim Burns, HomeWord seeks to advance the work of God in the world by educating, equipping, and encouraging parents and churches. Learn More »

  • Support Our Mission

    HomeWord is non-profit, donor supported ministry. If you would like to partner with HomeWord in our effort to help more parents and families you can make a donation. Your investment will allow us to expand this ministry by offering more resources to families and churches in need.

  • Contact Information

    • HomeWord
      PO Box 1600
      San Juan Capistrano, CA

    • Send us an email

    • 800-397-9725
      (M-F: 8:30am-5pm PST)