Sixth high school football player this year dies


In Alto, Texas where football is apart of the community’s soul, a football player collapsed on the sideline and died this previous Friday.

Alto High School junior Cam’ron Matthews made it to the bench after a kickoff return right before halftime. He told his teammates in the huddle that he felt dizzy before he left the field. The student then had a seizure while reaching for the sideline bench; doctors, coaches, and nurses tried to keep him alive.

It is a rural community, eleven miles from any major town so after waiting for an ambulance that would not show up, a helicopter from Tyler, Texas, 50 miles to the north, was called.

Matthews was in critical condition until Saturday when he passed in the hospital; official cause of death is yet to be determined. Cam’ron played wide receiver, quarterback, and safety for the team. The two hundred student school decided to suspend the game due to the tragedy.

Kelly Birdwell, the Alto School District Superintendent told KTRE News station “He (Cam’ron) was a a great kid, athlete, strong in his faith and a friend to many. When you have your own children and you want them to emulate someone and to follow in their footsteps, Cam’ron was a perfect example of that. He was a great kid in the classroom, unbelievable athlete, but more importantly just a great, great kid.”

On Saturday night mourners gathered on the Yellowjackets’ field to pray for their fellow teammate, peer, friend, and community member. Donations for his family are being collected through a GoFundMe page.

Matthews is the sixth high school football player to have died since September and the start of the season. Many schools are growing increasingly worried over football-related injuries and some are wondering if the school should keep their teams in order to protect the students.

In 2014 five players died due direct injuries such as head and spinal injuries according to the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research at the University of North Carolina. Another six have died from indirect injuries. Three deaths were heart issues, one heat stroke, and two from water intoxication/electrolyte imbalances.

Over the last decade there has been an average of three deaths directly related to high school football. Between 2005 and 2014, ninety-two deaths of high school football players were indirectly related according to the NCCSIR survey.

There is a significant more amount of deaths in the high school versus college and pros because there are so many more high school players. With 1.1 million high school players in the U.S., compared to only 100,000 NFL, college, and arena football/semiprofessional teams there’s simply just way more high school players.

Also, high school players are much more susceptible to injuries; in fact three times more likely, because of their undeveloped brains and just utter lack of skill compared to the higher levels.

Lastly, seventy percent of players played through concussion like symptoms because they did not tell their coaches according to a study done by the American Journal of Sports Medicine. Plus, only thirty-seven percent of school’s have a full time training staff.

“Nearly all of the causes of death in sport are influenced by the care in the first five to seven minutes,” said one of the study’s authors, Douglas Casa, a professor of kinesiology at the University of Connecticut

However, the sport is said to be ‘safer than ever’ due to big pushes for proper tackling and head safety. As well as, advancements in helmet technology and limits on full-contact drills per week.

Kenny Guskiewicz, co-director of the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injurey Research Center said, “High school sports are probably safer than they’ve ever been.”