Pediatricians call for end to hard hits in high school football

Friends, neighbors, and coaches of Andre Smith gathered over the weekend to mourn the 17-year-old senior whose life was cut short playing a game he loved.

His brother Eric Smith had a warning for Andre's teammates. "Be cautious because something just as simple as a football injury can end a whole life."

reynoldsfootball-death102615en-cut-2.png
Andre Smith The Smith Family

Andre's coach Terrel Alexander said there is no way to prepare for such a tragedy. "It's not something you can write down and come up with a script for these young men."

Andre played for Chicago's Bogan High School and was injured in a collision on the last play of the last game of the season.

He is the seventh high school player in the country to die in 2015 from a football-related injury -- in his case blunt force trauma to the head.

7th high school football player dies as new guidelines offered

Now the American Academy of Pediatrics says the way we play the game must change. Proper tackling technique must be emphasized, and there must be zero tolerance for illegal head-first hits.

"Those are high-risk maneuvers. Those are the kinds of things that are associated with catastrophic injury to both the brain and the neck." said Dr. Greg Landry, who co-authored the AAP statement.

reynoldsfootball-death-2.png
Friends mourn Andre Smith CBS News

Dr. Landry also said athletic trainers should be available to quickly assess injuries. Nationwide, only 37 percent of high schools have full-time athletic trainers.

Athletic trainer Brian Robinson says budget is often the excuse he hears. "I think that in today's society schools who use that excuse are making a mistake."

Nevertheless, 30 percent of the high schools in this country have no athletic trainers at all.

  • Dean Reynolds
    Dean Reynolds

    Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.