Monday, December 20, 2010

Youth sports poll: Concussions don't worry kids

The latest ESPN the Magazine includes an interesting survey. The Mag polled 600 people (300 players, 100 coaches, 100 parents, 100 athletic trainers) in 23 state about concussions. I like the questions, simple and neutral. Not much to like about the attitudes of players, though. A majority seems not to take concussions that seriously. Have a look at the question below. (Click on it for easier reading). More than half say they'd rather win a big game with a teammate suffering a concussion than lose without him.

The quick and easy way to interpret these findings is that the attitudes of players are the largest problem. Maybe. I'd say it's more complicated. Kids are sponges. They listen not only to what we say but what we do. They are influenced by education campaigns that warn of dangers from concussions. They also understand that as a society we value tough guys.

This is from Until It Hurts:

"Are adults sending messages, subtly or otherwise, that winning comes first and guarding the health of high school players second? Do youth players fear that they have to choose between listening to their bodies and satisfying their coaches and parents?

"In his New York Times piece, [Alan] Schwarz addresses these questions with powerful reporting. A physician at a Connecticut high school recalls sending a player from an opposing team to the sidelines with a concussion. The coach instructed the player to switch his uniform number and surreptitiously return to the game. A team doctor in Charlottesville, Virginia laments the recklessness of parents who will not listen to any advice that takes their child out of a game. “I have had parents tear up the form that I’ve filled out strongly recommending their child not play, and shop a doc to get their kid OK’d,” he says.

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