Every day, I drive past my local elementary school, and I’m sure that pretty soon I’ll see young kids on the fields practicing football. These little kids are in fully padded uniforms and wear helmets. The ones I usually see can’t be over 10 years old.
Football and hockey are two of the most common full contact sports young children play. As a mother of a 5 year old, I don’t know if I’d let my son play these sports. Fortunately, he doesn’t seem to express much interest in anything but soccer and baseball, so I may never have to really consider the issue.
Knowing what I know about contact sports, head injuries and advances in medicine which show that head injuries may have lasting effects on the brain and development, I don’t think I’d let my kid play these kinds of sports, even if he wanted to.
My husband, who started playing football when he was 8, disagrees. He thinks that a little rough play is good for boys. Slightly old-fashioned, but I get it.
For me, the problem isn’t the sport itself, or even that during my kid’s childhood, he’s going to bang his head every now and again. Instead I worry about what I’ve seen in the cases we’ve handled - coaches or staff who don’t pay attention to head injuries or don’t even know what to do when a kid “gets his bell rung.” Any child who suffers even a mild concussion needs to be kept out of play to avoid a second concussion. Second impact syndrome results when a person sustains a second concussion before a first concussion has resolved. Death or severe brain injury can result.
In situations where a coach or staff isn’t paying attention to kids who are playing too rough or when coaches don’t know the importance of a proper concussion assessment protocol, a child’s concussion can go undetected. This is what I’m most concerned about. One minor head bump later, and a kid could suffer the kind of life-altering injuries most parents dread or worse, hey may die due to the injuries.
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