Hits and Neck Injuries Alarm Football World

by Joe Gilson

Broken fingers and arms along with torn ACL’s are common occurrences among football players. However, parents and spectators are thinking more about paralyzed athletes after a few games on Oct. 16.

Some people are wondering how to make football safer while keeping it exciting.

“I think that in the next five to 10 years there will either be a big change in the rules of the game or a change in the equipment that is used,” Head Athletic Trainer Jason Uhlenhake said.

One of the hits left Chris Norton, a freshman from Luther College, motionless on the field. Norton, originally from Bondurant, Iowa, ran down on kickoff and after an aggressive play, Norton’s head hit a Central College player’s leg. The collision resulted in a fractured neck and compressed vertebrae, leaving Norton temporarily paralyzed from the neck down.

Junior Keri Waterhouse, also from Bondurant, knows the Norton family very well and is helping them by selling bracelets as part of a fundraiser for Norton.

“I told the Norton family I would do whatever they needed me to,” Waterhouse said. “If you know the Norton family, you know they’d always be there to do the same for anyone else.”

The same weekend of the two neck injuries, the National Football League (NFL) had numerous helmet-to-helmet hits that resulted in concussions.

Kaleb Meek is a freshman football player at Simpson that grew up with Norton in Bondurant.

“I’ve been playing football my whole life and I think that sometimes injuries happen like Chris’ that are out of your control,” Meek said.

Norton is well on his way to recovery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. His many friends and family have helped him in his healing process. He has also received support from Adrian Peterson, Kirk Ferentz, the Baltimore Ravens, the Baylor Bears and numerous other college football programs.

His personal website www.caringbridge.org/visit/chirsnorton is gaining thousands of hits from around the world each day.

“Chris has always had a strong will and I think that will play a vital role in the next few years in his recovery, he will always be affected by this injury, but he will still have a great positive outlook on life,” Meek said.

If interested in purchasing a bracelet for Norton, please contact Keri Waterhouse.