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Half of high school football players suffer brain injuries, report says

The United States is a world leader in education spending, but I figure we rank lower in math, science and every other academic subject than we do in football.

Alexander High School player Justin Hall (11) tries unsuccessfully to make a catch while being defended by Allatoona High School player Raleigh Webb (2) during the first half of a high school football game, Friday, Oct. 2, 2015, in Acworth, Ga. BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL

The U.S. spends about $11,000 a year per student and only 80 percent graduate high school. Georgia spends about $10,000 a year per high school student but only 72 percent or so graduate.

Washington, D.C., home of the U.S. Department of Education, has the worst graduation record -- 62 percent.

Graduation rates are up, but a high school diploma in America ain't what it used to be thanks to relaxed standards.

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In Los Angeles, students can graduate high school and be eligible for college by making Ds . The change was made because less than half of students would have made the previously required C.

If you can't teach 'em, pass 'em, as they say in Atlanta.

As much as we spend on education, we spend almost as much on sports. But we get much better results. Americans are so good at football most other countries don't even play it.

Unfortunately for learning, Reuters reports more than half of all high school football players suffer brain injuries. Female soccer players were also tested and suffered similar rates of injury.

The seven-year study indicates more than half of the players participating in the trials showed signs of altered neurological function and dramatic changes to the wiring and biochemistry of their brains.

That sounds serious, but a researcher involved in the study makes it sound like touchdowns are more important than brains.

"You're not going to change the game. You are not going to get rid of the game, at least," said Larry Leverenz, a Clinical Professor of Health and Kinesiology at Purdue University.

Yes, it's obvious we won't be cutting football anytime soon. It is an industry unto itself. The highest paid public worker in most states is not a governor -- it's a coach.

At the high school level, football coaches are making more than $120,000 and, increasingly, not responsible for teaching any academic courses.

But, taxpayers can't expect to funnel decent athletes to the highly-profitable NCAA by cutting our commitment to athletic excellence at the high school level.

Maybe another way to increase high school graduation rates is to come up with an exciting sport that doesn't require students to injure their brains?

Nah, except for the "exciting" part that would be too much like baseball.

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