Kids Safety: Kids and Sports – How much is too much?
This morning’s Austin American Statesman ran a great story entitled Kids and Sports: How much is too much?
The premise of the article, which was written by a Dallas doctor, is that kids and parents’ increasing focus on some sports is dangerous for our kids.
There are a number of issues. Kids now are much more likely to play one sport year-round, leading to over-use injuries. Kids now engage in weight-training that is far superior to anything a few years ago, which leads to kids being bigger, stronger and faster, but also over-taxing their bodies, particularly their weaker growth plates. And, the doctor argues, more and more parents and kids are trying to force themselves back into action before the kids are fully healed.
The doctor also focuses on two things that have been an emphasis for us. One is the rise of competitive cheerleading. The United States Sports Academy finds that cheerleading is responsible for the most catastrophic female sports injuries in the US (second only to football overall). The USAA reports that many cheerleading injuries and falls do more damage than being tackled by a professional football player.
The second issue is the rise in head injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control, almost half a million kids visit emergency rooms each year for traumatic brain injuries — many from sports. The doctor said that in the week before writing the article, she had treated a volleyball player with a head injury and two dancers who sustained head injuries as a result of a head-to-head collision.
We are unwittingly hurting our kids, and that shouldn’t be acceptable.
Even worse, we may be destroying their love of the various games. The doctor cites a study that finds that by age 13, 70 percent of kids drop out of youth sports. As the doctor says, “What could have been a lifelong source of exercise or fun competition is discarded due to injuries, stress and burnout.”
The article hits home with me. I have a 13 year old daughter who is passionate about her dance team, and I have a 10 year old son who loves to play baseball. I hope to take the article to heart and make sure that we’re not making the same mistakes as others.
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