Update: The South Carolina high school football player who died after being helped off the field, “suffered a sudden irregular heartbeat brought on by having been born with an enlarged heart”, a coroner said Saturday. The stress of playing along with his large size, certainly did nothing to help his medical condition. A sad story with a tragic ending.
A South Carolina 6’3″ high school football player weighing 320 pounds died after being helped off the field following a tackle. Ronald Rouse, an 18-year-old senior lineman for the Hartsville Red Foxes, was playing in the Homecoming game when he had difficulty getting up after a tackle. His death raises many questions about high school sports, football specifically. Real Sports with Bryant Gumble on HBO ran a story about the every growing high school football players who must continually grow bigger and faster if they have a hope of playing for a Division One University and eventual career in the NFL. While 6’3″ is not unusually tall, a weight of 320 can almost never be an acceptable weight no matter how tall. In this case, since Rouse died after making a tackle, he may have died from being literally crushed under the pile, specifically, compression on his chest which did not allow him to breathe. Or perhaps he broke a rib, which punctured his lung. All of this speculation of course. Or more simply and fairly likely, his heart just gave out. Football is a great game. Along with Baseball, it is all American. What would a cold, snowy afternoon in December be without a football game and a Sam Adams? But Football is not everything. It’s certainly not worth risking life. In the end, it’s just a game, just a sport man created as an alternative to war. When the results of the autopsy are released, High Schools across the country need to take that information and do whatever is necessary to ensure this tragic loss is never again repeated. Obviously that’s unrealistic and people will see this as one tragic death but it is much more than that. As a country we must stop stressing the ultimate importance of football and sports in general. In many parts of the country, Football is a religion, particularly in the south and midwest, but we can not sacrifice our young people simply to win a football game. The rule should be that anyone obese, and 6’3″ 320 pounds is obese, can not participate in sports activities. They should be ineligible as if they failed classes. When the weight is lost and the player is deemed healthy, he/she can be reinstated. This may be controversial but I stand behind it.