By: Brandon Z
Anyone who has ever played or watched a sport has inevitably seen some sort of injury. Through my personal experience, I have suffered many minor and major injuries. I have had and seen anything from pulled muscles to broken bones, and even bad concussions. These injuries always occurred to me as just part of the game. This is until I watched the movie “Head Games” directed by Steve James. “Head Games” talked about repeated impacts to the head through youth football. The question brought to light by this film is whose responsibility is it to keep these youth safe?
A concussion is derived from the latin word “concutere” or “to shake violently”. This is exactly what a concussion – is a shaking of the brain and impact of the brain against the skull that lowers brain function of the injured person. Concussions have immediate short term effects, although every athlete reacts differently, most athletes have headaches, see sparkles or lights, confusion, vomiting, amnesia, and even depression. The problem with concussions is when the symptoms have all gone the brain is not 100% healed. Untrained coaches and team therapists are often unaware of the procedures that should be used when a youth athlete sustains a concussion. This lack of knowledge is putting youth at an extreme risk for long term brain damage which can result in unexpected death.
Speed and aggression in youth sports is exponentially increasing as equipment becomes lighter and training programs become more present in earlier age. Contact sports are becoming more dangerous for youth every day. There is zero chance that contact sports will become non-existent because of the love for sports in our country and all over the world. One thing that needs to change immediately is the mentality in the locker room and on the field in sports. A concussion is an injury that no one can see. A concussion is not a broken arm that you receive a cast or have to get surgery. A concussion is only felt or seen by the person who has received it. Because of this, team mates and coaches often encourage players to “get back out there” or “man-up”. The mentality is to play through the pain and make sacrifices for the players around you. The mentality of youth sports teams needs to change. These children are dying at a younger age, often have a shrunken hippocampus (the part of the brain that is responsible for memory), and lose brain cells while there brain is still in development.
Is an elementary school football championship really worth permanent brain damage, higher risks of suicide, or difficult time learning for the rest of the youth’s life?
Head Games by Steve James
Roy, B. A. Fitness focus. Concussion in youth sports. ACSM’S Health & Fitness Journal , 17(5), 3.