Parents divided on football safety

Allegations of misdiagnosed injuries, bacteria on the field contrast with parents who defend program as safe and well-managed. Many won't speak publicly.

December 02, 2010|By Ashley Breeding,

Parents of football players at Laguna Beach High School are divided about whether the program is safe.

At a time when the threat of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a potentially fatal bacterium, on high school football fields and in locker rooms has been in the news, some parents are worried about allegations of a lack of precautions being taken to protect student players.

Others defend the athletic department and say the district is taking all of the proper safety measures.

Denise De La Torre, football booster treasurer and mother of a junior lineman, recently presented her concerns to the Laguna Beach Unified School District after allegedly witnessing football players being put back into play with injuries, and after her own son contracted staph after being cleared to play with a misdiagnosed injury.


"We saw several doctors for weeks, trying to figure out what was wrong with my son," she said. "He was later diagnosed with staph infection in his muscle and possibly his bone. He's still being treated with antibiotics and after three weeks, his blood test results are still not normal.

"My intention is not to create any problems for the football team or staff; I just want to inform parents about the dangers of staph, and convince the board to fund and implement a better safety protocol so this doesn't happen to another child."

De La Torre is pushing for training and conditioning to prevent injuries that are more prevalent with turf fields, a full-time athletic trainer to properly assess injuries, as opposed to a volunteer orthopedic surgeon who isn't able to attend all of the games, thorough cleaning and maintenance of the potentially bacteria-ridden field, and a better chain of communication so that when injuries occur, players are immediately sent for medical attention so injuries don't have time to progress.

Jude Martinez, who said he's attended every game and whose son, Elijah, received a concussion during a game early in the season, said he supports the protocol that is in place.

"The trainer pulled him out of play for the remainder of the game and recommended that we seek medical attention," he said. "The physician confirmed that Elijah had a concussion and said he should sit out for a week. The coaches had no problem complying with this."

Another parent, who asked to remain anonymous, said her child sustained further injury due to a breakdown in communication among the coaching staff.

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