Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sports injuries and kids in the Wall Street Journal

"The Juggle," the Wall Street Journal's family and work balance blog, posted yesterday on injuries in youth sports. Sue Shellenbarger writes about her daughter's ACL injury - suffered during a high-school basketball game - and reconstructive surgery. There's a brief mention of Until It Hurts and Ben's injury and operation.

At last count, there were 24 comments posted, including these:

"I have seen an unbelievable amount of serious injury among young ballet dancers. I believe this is related to three key issues: The intensity of ballet training, the very early specialization of most dancers, and the heartbreaking incidence of poor nutrition and eating disorders."

"My daughter is in 3rd grade and is playing spring soccer. It amazes me at this age how many of the other teams are playing soccer year-round (they play indoor soccer in the winter). While it certainly gives them an advantage now against the other 3rd grade teams that don’t play year-round, I wonder if those girls are going to be more likely to burn-out and/or end up with injuries."

"My little brother was just told that he will have to sit out this soccer season for knee surgery. He has been playing sports (started with hockey then basketball and soccer) for the last six years and because of the continual year round use of his muscles they have just given out."

"I know a 12 yo swimmer who may have to have shoulder surgery - thus ending her swimming career. Of course, the child in question has been swimming seriously competitively since at least 8. She’s not the only one I know of. And the pressure IS great - there is a kid I know who played HS varsity football as a freshman - got tackled and lost a kidney! And he’s thinking about going back next year!"

Reminds me of a story from my book: A sports medicine doc is speaking with a high school football player and his parents in his office. The young man was tackled hard during a game and suffered a serious injury to his spleen. The doctor notes that another blow to the spleen could have horrible consequences and recommends that the player quit the sport. The parents do not accept this advice. They begin to negotiate - in front of their child. What if their son wore a little padding around his middle? No? How about A LOT of padding?

A sport psychology consultant who works with the physician told me about the case. She was stunned by the parents' reaction. “They didn’t want to hear that he could not play football again. That was the most extreme case of denial we’ve encountered in 15 years.”

1 comment:

Linde Hyder said...

I have not yet read your book, “Until it Hurts” although from what I’ve read thus far in excerpts included on your web site it seems like a must read for all parents of kids involved in organized sports. I enrolled my son in soccer almost four years ago mainly as an outlet for all that boundless energy he seems to possess. I never once considered that some day in the distant future he would earn a college scholarship or turn professional. He truly enjoys the game – as evidenced by this being his fourth year enjoying the sport. While he could probably play year-round I encourage him to ‘take a break’ at least during the summer and just enjoy the time off from school and sports.

Having witnessed what I like to call ‘bleacher creatures’ during football games my daughter cheered for as well as baseball games when my nephew played I have seen what pushy parents and coaches can do to children and can certainly see the potential for injury. One of the main reasons I was drawn to i9 Sports was because they have their priorities in place and haven’t lost sight of what’s most important – having fun. Kids are rewarded for their actions during a game based on good sportsmanship and teamwork. There are no ‘star’ players which means everyone gets a chance to play regardless of skill level or if its a close game. In fact, I admire the organization so much I joined their staff as a free lance writer! (

Naturally, we want our kids to success in all their endeavors. At the same time, however, we need to keep in mind that it is our job as parents to protect our children from harm—mentally and physically. If we pressure our kids into playing a game despite painful injury then we have failed them in our most important responsibility.