Would you let your kid play football?
Pssst. Don't tell my kid but I'm secretly glad my 12 year old broke his arm this summer. He'd been begging me for years to play tackle football and I held him off with flag teams for awhile and finally gave in, figuring if this is something he's passionate about, I should support it. I researched the best leagues, focusing on the ones that seem to have the best training of coaches, who understood the importance of staying hydrated in Florida's heat and took head injuries seriously.
Two weeks into it, he broke his arm working with tackle dummies and I'm crossing my fingers that this has cured him, that he has crossed over to being just a big fan like me. Is it hypocritical that I love the game but fret if someone I love is playing it?
I'm even happier we put the season behind us after reading this story by my colleague Michael Kruse about medical studies that are finding that it doesn't necessarily have to be the visibly hard blows that have the most serious long-term ramifications. It is perhaps something even scarier. It could be every hit.
More important, I think, is this companion piece by Richard Martin on how parents are often in the dark about head injury risks. A recent national poll found that among parents with children aged 12-17 who play school sports, only 8 percent have read or heard about the risks of repeat concussions, and more than half didn't know if their children's school had a policy about returning to sports after a concussion.
The experts in the story recommend that parents demand that leagues have mandatory training for coaches on concussions and that parents make sure they know how to spot concussion symptoms. A parent's role is crucial, because concussion symptoms may not show up until hours after the hit.
So after reading that would you tell your kid to turn in his cleats and take up a tennis racket?
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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(Times illustration on the effect of repeated injuries on the brain)