Teen Left Paralyzed After His First High School Football Game

Minnesota high school football player Ethan Glynn is paralyzed after a bad tackle and he may never walk again.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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In adolescence, youth sports are meant to be fun. But in a growing fashion, bad sportsmanship, extreme competition, and high expectations often cause them to become an obsession. A recent study from UCLA Health reported that youth sports injuries are on the rise, and the story of one high school football freshman who was recently left paralyzed after his first game on the field, is adding to that growing statistic. 

Ethan Glynn, a 15-year-old student from Minnesota may spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair following an injury sustained during a high school football game on September 2nd. The freshman suffered a serious neck and spinal cord injury after clashing with another player. Now paralyzed from the shoulders down, his local community and the rest of the nation are bringing attention to his situation via a CaringBridge page set up to take in donations for his family. 

According to Glynn’s high school football coach, Tim Carlson, the injury may have been the result of a freak accident. Speaking with KSTP News, the coach said that he believes the boy might have somehow tripped before making a tackle, therefore causing him to collide headfirst into the other player. But regardless of whether the debilitating injury may have been caused by a trip or not, it may change the life of this young student forever. 

Across the United States, more than 3.5 million children are injured playing sports, and that only accounts for those aged 14 and younger. Among those reports, the majority of them stem from football-related incidents. Tackling remains the leading cause of these injuries in high school football. 

Because of this growing occurrence, there have long been pushes from select groups attempting to alter this trajectory. In extreme cases, some states have attempted to ban high school football altogether. Others have simply increased safety measures in attempts to stave off severe injuries over the last decade

Tragically, this horrific injury marked the first of Glynn’s high school football career. He is known throughout his community as being a talented athlete, being the captain of his youth hockey team as well. Last year, he led his team all the way to the state’s hockey championship. 

The 15-year-old high school football player remained in the hospital according to an update from his family on Tuesday, September 6th. He is undergoing physical therapy for his arms and legs. On Monday, he received surgery and remains on a ventilator. Calling him by his well-known nickname, the update added that “E” is adamantly fighting to make a comeback from his injuries. 

A separate GoFundMe was set up by family members to raise money to help pay for the cost of the high school football players’ medical expenses. So far, more than $131,000 has been raised. A spokesperson for the Bloomington School District has since set up support systems in the school for students coping with the turnout of events. 

high school football

While it is unknown whether or not Ethan Glynn will ever walk again, his family and friends remain hopeful. High school football can be a dangerous sport. While it is unknown if any extra precaution could have prevented the 15-year-old injury, the matter sheds light on a growing concern to many parents involved in school-aged sports.