Playing sports teaches so many amazing life lessons–teamwork, communication, leadership, and problem solving, just to name a few. These positive lessons help to mold our children into the adults they will later become. However, just like with all things, there is risk involved. In particular, the risk of concussion in sports like football, soccer, hockey, and lacrosse are in the headlines every day. Parents today are more cautious than ever about what sports their children should play. I understand this mentality and there is good reason to have concern, as stories like the one below, seem to be happening more frequently…
Recently, I spoke at an event where a “heads-up” father told me a chilling story. A few months ago, he was at his son’s weekly football game… That’s American football, the one with the helmets, pads, mouth guards, and the high speed collisions. For the record, I am a huge football fan! In fourth and fifth grade I played linebacker and wide receiver in a Pop Warner league in my hometown, Dayton, Minnesota. That was full on pads and helmets, the whole nine yards! I cried when my mom made me quit in sixth grade. I would have to play in the older division and Mom wasn’t having that, but I digress…
The father told me about one of the running backs on the team suffering a teeth-rattling, helmet to helmet hit. While carrying the ball at the running back position, he immediately crumpled to the ground. Play was stopped and the team medical personnel ran onto the field to assess him. He was clearly showing several signs of a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Within minutes after being escorted off the field, he vomited on the sidelines.
The head coach asked the player, “What did you have to eat today?”
When the boy said he had seafood, the coach then said, “Well that must be why you just got sick, get some water, shake it off and get back out there!”
At that moment the aware father said, “There is no way he’s going back in there! He needs to see a doctor right now.”
The father suspected the player might have a skull fracture; sadly, the tests showed he was correct. Thank goodness he was able to talk the coach out of sending the player back in, because he would have surely suffered another hit as a running back. I was horrified at the thought of the damage just one more hit would have caused had that father NOT been aware and insistent.
Similar scenarios play over and over again on ball fields all over the country…This is why awareness, education, and application about TBI is crucial. Youth sports safety is often overlooked, until a child you know is affected. Thankfully in this case, SOMEONE knew enough to say, “That’s enough!!”
My recommendation is this, say “yes” to your children when they show great interest and desire to play a sport, any sport. The “personal experience” of participating can be something that is a springboard to great things. However, as a parent, be smart and put safety first!! A parent’s education and understanding of concussions may save a child’s life.
Editor’s note: If you feel your child has concussion symptoms, seek medical attention. Learn more about concussion symptoms at:
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