Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Concussing Our Kids

Fabulous piece in the Dallas Observer, about brain injuries in youth sports:

Concussing Our Kids, One Hit At a Time
Natasha Helmick goes up for a header during a soccer match and gets speared in the left temple by an opponent. The 14-year-old, a talented center midfielder playing in the choice Lake Highlands Girls Classic League, crumples to the ground.
The discussion of brain injuries has mainly focused on pro sports so far, and some on college football. But despite the high-profile nature of those victims, they are almost beside the point. The real battleground is youth sports.

I tell you right now, we are not very far from tackle football being illegalized (?) in some states, for athletes under 18. Maybe 10 years. Some state is going to go first, and some states will follow, the District among them. Football as we know it is built on a foundation of high school and Pop Warner leagues. Without that supply of athletes, there is no one to play NCAA Division I, whether it's legal for 18-yr-olds or not. And what happens to the NFL, without a deep pool of college players?

The NFL is smart, I'm sure there's someone in the league offices who is looking to get out in front of this thing. Fund some studies, sponsor some safety legislation, etc. They might be able to frame the discussion and turn the tide. But make no mistake, that is what is on the table when we start talking about head trauma and youth sports: the end of football.

1 comment:

  1. I think the way they're trying to get out in front of it - or at least the way they should be - is pumping massive amounts of study into technological advancements in the helmet and general protection industry. Get better equipment and then put rules in place to cut down on the head shots, it should reduce the problem at lower levels and take some if not most of the pressure off.

    Otherwise, you're right. Right now it feels like a race to me...something's going to happen to cut head injuries dramatically. The question is, which happens first.


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