Forfeiting to avoid injuries in football

Ryan Blevins
By Ryan Blevins October 28, 2016 13:52
Holy Names running back Zach Herzog (7) stiff arms a St. Anne Saints defender during a WECSSAA regular season game.

Holy Names running back Zach Herzog (7) stiff arms a St. Anne Saints defender during a WECSSAA regular season game.

By Ryan Blevins

For the nationally ranked Herman Green Griffins and Holy Names Knights, playing all their scheduled games is no issue.

Canada’s neighbours to the south are having issues with teams forfeiting games. Archbishop Murphy High School in Washington began its season 3-0. What seems like a mundane statistic is explained by their 170-0 point differential in three games. Since their dominant start, all Archbishop Murphy’s opponents are forfeiting rather than playing the games on the field. According to local parents and coaches, it’s not because they’re afraid to lose, it’s because they don’t want their players being sent to the hospital.

According to the Herman Green Griffins are considered to be Canada’s best high school football team. After a 7-0 season the Green Griffins have secured first place heading into the playoffs and are looking to win their ninth consecutive city championship. Holy Names is also nationally ranked, sitting at second place heading into the playoffs. The Knights have been just as dominant over the past five years.

Dating back to 2011 the Knights have a better regular season record than their rival Herman. Despite their longstanding dominance, neither team has ever had a team forfeit against them.

Windsor Essex County Secondary School Athletic Association convenor Rob McIntyre said competitiveness has never been a problem locally.

“I’ve never been in this situation,” said McIntyre, “We’ve never had this issue in WECSSAA and schools would likely be penalized if there was an issue.”

Football can be a dangerous sport. The steps taken to prevent injury by major football organizations has come to the forefront and steps are being taken to make football a safer game. According to a study done by Safe Kids Worldwide, youth football players are three times as likely to sustain an injury over youth athletes who play other sports. The same study concluded thirty in every 1,000 youth football players sustain an injury each season. Of those injuries, 13 per cent are concussions.

Anthony Lettari, a Holy Names offensive lineman, said he feels there is a moral obligation to play out the season schedule.

“You know what you get when you sign up to play football. I understand the health risks but this is football, you accept those when you sign up,” said Lettari.

According to McIntyre, local teams have been forced to forfeit in the past due to an inability to field a team. Smaller schools such as Assumption and Leamington often have smaller teams and struggle to get players to commit for a full season. Health concerns have never been an issue.

The WECSSAA regular season concluded earlier this week and all games on the schedule were played. Holy Names and Herman enter the playoffs as the top seeded teams.

Ryan Blevins
By Ryan Blevins October 28, 2016 13:52

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