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We sometimes jump to conclusions when it comes to teens and assume they will always make choices that put themselves first. But a varsity football team in Brocton, New York, serves as an inspiration to us all after its young players voted to cancel their season so they could honor and mourn the death of a teammate.
On September 13, 16-year-old star running back Damon Janes endured what doctors called a "helmet-to-helmet" hit during the third quarter of the Westfield/Brocton High School game. He was able to get up on his feet, but lost consciousness on the sidelines and died in a Buffalo hospital three days later. The close-knit town held vigils and fundraisers for Janes' family and his teammated grappled with the idea of playing the rest of the season and dedicating the games to Janes, which would have been a lovely and thoughtful move, for sure.
But what's really impressive and unexpected about this story is that the boys didn't force themselves to take a blockbuster movie approach to their situation. They found themselves struggling with their emotions, even questioning the importance of football in the grand scheme of things, and after taking a paper-ballot vote, decided to end their season after having played only two games. I don't feel there was a right or wrong choice here, but I respect the fact that these teens value the need they have to mourn their friend and found that more important than playing football.
I only hope the coaches at other schools that have recently dealt with the tragic deaths of football players, including Haas Middle School in Texas -- where a boy recently died after an allergic reaction on the field to ants -- acted with as much compassion as the leaders at Westfield/Brocton, who put their teen players' feelings and needs ahead of everything else.
What do you think about the teens' decision to end their football season?
Image Via Jayel Aheram/Flickr