The concussion issue gained even more national exposure this week when the New York Times reported about a pee wee football game that included five players suffering concussions.
Concussions have been a hot topic in sports, especially football, in recent years. All the way from the pros to pee wee, people are expressing worries about head injuries affecting football players.
According to the New York Times, a pair of Pop Warner teams in Massachusetts with players as young as 10 years old competed in a game on Sept. 15 that ended with a 52-0 final score. The game didn’t garner much attention at first, that’s until the reports of the injuries came out.
On the first play two players from one team went out with head injuries. Five plays later another kid from the team was hurt with a head injury.
By the end of the game, the one team had five players hurt — including one on the final play — and didn’t even have enough kids to field a full team.
As bad as it sounds, it could have been worse. At least the team had an emergency medical technician to pull the injured kids from the game.
According to the newspaper, few youth leagues require physicians to be present at the games. Plus, the coaches have varying experience dealing with injuries, many very little, and aren’t sure how to diagnose or deal with head injuries.
Football will never be a completely safe sport, if such a thing even exists. With as much contact as there is in the game, there are bound to be injuries.
Helmet manufacturers have made strides in improving their products to reduce injuries, but even pro and college teams with millions of dollars at their disposal can’t buy helmets that negate all head injuries.
At youth levels teams don’t have the resources that professional or college teams have. They can’t afford the best equipment and don’t have the best doctors monitoring players. They often rely on coaches who don’t have the necessary expertise in dealing with head injuries.
I’m sure there will be more and more people speaking out against football. They’ll say it’s too dangerous of a game and people should stop playing.
I love the sport and want to see people continuing to play it. But I do think there needs to be more emphasis placed on safety.
One question that surely will be asked and deserves consideration is, should youth players be playing full contact football?
Maybe instead of having kids ages 6-11 playing tackle football, they should consider flag football instead. They still could learn the fundamentals of the game without many of the inherit risks of the game.
With stories such as the one documented by the New York Times coming out, there will be more and more pressure on people to reduce the dangers of football.
Ultimately, though, the decision is in the hands of the parents as they decide whether or not their young children should be playing football.
Kyle Shaner is the sports editor for the Daily Advocate. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.