Frontline tackles football’s dangers

SHARE Frontline tackles football’s dangers

Frontline is one of my favorite television programs, an automatic DVR experience along with “Leverage,” “The Good Wife” and another PBS staple, “The American Experience.”

But I wasn’t sure what to make of Tuesday night’s broadcast of “Football High,” Frontline’s second episode on sports in the past three weeks. That’s a rarity for an all-too-serious documentary. The Frontline broadcast focused on Shiloh Christian, a small school football power in Springdale, Ark. Shiloh reminds me of the now-demolished Driscoll, another small school power which kept on winning state title after state title.

The program featured top prospect Kiehl Frazier, one of those mega-talented spread QBs from Shiloh with crates full of recruiting mail and plenty of rave reviews from commentators from ESPN.com and Rivals.com.

But I think “Football High” tried to focus on the hidden dangers in the game. The 60-minute doc also included the stories of two Arkansas high school players, who each suffered heat stroke just days apart in 2010. Then there was the story of Shiloh running back Garrett Harper, whose career suffered a setback due to a concussion. “Football High” claimed that there are 60,000 concussions a year in high school football. That’s their claim, anyway.

Football concussions have been in the news and Hersey grad Chris Nowinski (right) has been in the forefront of brain research as a result of football-related concussions. Nowinski, a Harvard grad and former professional wrestler, is featured in the program through his work with the Boston University School of Medicine.

There was one other hidden danger about football “Football High” did not address. It’s hard to forget the stories of Rolling Meadows’ Rob Komosa and Eishenower’s Rocky Clark, each of whom suffered permanent paralysis as a result of football injuries to their spine.

You can watch “Football High” here.

The program was broadcast just a few weeks after Frontline looked at the NCAA’s March Madness with its focus on Sonny Vacaro, the coach turned Nike rep, who is responsible for the shoe deals that have rewarded men’s basketball coaches and athletic departments with wheelbarrows full of money.

That episode, “Money and March Madness,” can be seen here.

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