A father in Pittsburgh is suing to keep his 17-year-old son from playing high school football, out of fear that one more brain injury may debilitate him. The boy and his mother are fighting back, trying to keep his dreams of a football career alive.
To call the situation complicated would be an understatement.
By all accounts the boy’s father, John Orsini, is legitimately fearful for his son’s life. “I’m trying to save his future. I’m trying to save his life,” the older Orsini said.
The son, Antonio Orsini has already suffered three concussions while playing football. His father pointed to medical research to argue that any more concussions could result in serious and permanent brain damage. John Orsini said that after his concussions from playing in 2015 and 2016, Antonio “was sensitive to light and noise, experienced headaches and was lethargic”
“My heart breaks. I don’t want to stop him from playing football, I have to. And it’s to the point now, it’s become a big fight,” John Orsini told his local CBS Station, KDKA.
John Orsini and Antonio’s mother, Janice, divorced back in 2004, but share joint custody of Antonio. Football has been an important part of the Orsini family for years. Antonio has played football since he was five. His older brother currently plays for Cleveland’s Case Western University.
Antonio’s mother does not think that football poses a risk to her son. Her lawyer sent KDKA a statement saying: ““The mother and her 17-year-old son have reasonably relied upon the input and opinions of his treating physicians and medical providers, and have considered the state mandated safety and concussion protocols followed by the school district, in deciding whether it was appropriate for him to continue to participate in football.” Janice and Antonio are fighting back against John Orsini in court.
The Orsinis are not the only family facing this conundrum. The New York Times reports that there has been “an increase in custody battles over whether a child should be allowed to play football.”
The situation has reportedly driven the family apart. Antonio and his brothers are no longer talking to their father. But John Orsini said that his only concern is for his son’s future “My heart breaks. I don’t want to stop him from playing football, I have to. And it’s to the point now, it’s become a big fight.”