The freak accident that claimed the life of Scranton (Ohio) Prep coach and statistician Anthony Cantafio is forcing high schools to closely examine sideline regulations.
Cantafio, 67, a former math teacher who taught at Scranton Prep for decades before retiring in 2015, died in October during a game with Valley View after falling and hitting the back of his head on an asphalt track when a player who was run out of bounds collided with him as he stood on the sideline. Cantafio was knocked unconscious and later rushed to a hospital, where he succumbed to a traumatic brain injury ten days later.
Scranton Prep Athletic Director Scott Gower called the incident a tragedy that could have been avoided.
“When incidents like these happen, you heighten your awareness,” Gower told the Times-Tribune. “It’s always been preached to pay attention and to stay alert. When unfortunate things like this happen, you preach it even more.”
The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) mandates that all sideline observers be at least two yards back from the sideline between the 25-yard lines when the ball is in play. But there is no rule stating how many people are allowed on the sidelines, which is a decision that lies with the school.
Another consideration is the overall safety of a school’s playing field. In the wake of Cantafio’s death, many schools are investigating all angles, including lining the outsides of fields with rubber padding and covering things like the asphalt track that led to Cantafio’s death.