News – A dilemma in playing football

7 Mar

San Deigo, CA – Now that medical professionals involved with treating sports injuries, especially concussions, are beginning to know the long term effects of concussion, they are faced with a dilemma.  Do you allow your own children to play football?  Is football, the way it is currently played, safe enough for your child?

I played football for 12 years and had 1 concussion.  I recall feeling light headed for about 3 hours after a football game but the symptoms were gone later that evening.  I did suffer a shoulder injury and a major knee injury.  As I age, the knee is becoming more and more arthritic and has really slowed me down, but I can’t say that I regret the injury.  But knowing what I know about concussions, second impact syndrome and CTE, I am nervous about allowing my son to play.  Especially since he is in the schools gifted program with a measured IQ of 130.  I also believe that it is wrong to even attempt to shelter our kids from all pain.  You can’t live in a bubble!

“Concussions aren’t a broken arm,” said Kathryn Welch, athletic trainer at Helix Charter High School. “You can’t see it. (So) It’s much harder for people to accept.”

Case in point: During a Helix girls’ basketball game this season, Welch attended to an opposing team’s player who had hit her head on the floor. Suspecting a concussion, Welch determined that the player should not continue over the objections of the player’s coach and her father.

“There are a group of parents who are overly cautious,” Welch said. “But I’m always blown away by how many parents are overly competitive.”

“I was trying to argue something without any evidence,” Welch said. “I would say, ‘Coach, I think (this athlete) has a concussion.’ And even though I’m trained in that field, coaches don’t want to hear that. A lot of parents just wanted their kid to play. This gives us concrete evidence.”

While conceding that the NFL has “a real problem (with concussions); guys have gotten so doggone big, so fast and so athletic,” Oceanside football coach John Carroll says high school hits are generally less convulsive simply because of the comparative physics of the collisions. The 300-pound player who can run 40 yards in 4.6 seconds may be commonplace in the pros, but he’s still a rarity at the prom.

“I would hope that parents know it’s not a crisis in the sport,” Carroll said. “I have not seen a greater occurrence of concussions at the high school level than there were 15-20 years. (But) 15-20 years ago, people were much less cautious when they got their quote-unquote ‘bell rung.’ There’s much greater medical evaluation and competent people who are available to actually diagnose the symptoms than there were years ago. Parents should feel more comfortable.”

There is much to learn about life by participating in any team sport including the facts of risk/reward.  Since medical professionals are only seeing the injured players, we often solely focus on injuries.  Not all players get injured, some players get injured all the time, some players never get injured.

Is the risk worth the reward?  Only you can answer that question.



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