I’ll admit my bias straight away – I’ve never much cared for Deion Sanders. Gifted athlete, no question, and sometimes exciting to watch, just not my kind of player. Too self-centered, too self-aggrandizing, too selfish When he turned in his cleats for the broadcast booth, I found only another context in which not to be a fan, for the same reasons.
But some people like him just fine, and I long ago declared neutrality in the Who’s Great wars. We all admire who we do, don’t admire who we don’t. End of story. Still, I have to take exception when he sounds off to the media about the concussion crisis, as he does in this article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Sanders opines: “I don’t believe that’s valid, everything they are talking about with the concussion issue.” Again, I consider the source, especially one being interviewed about expanding his youth sports program named T.R.U.T.H by registering kids for football and cheerleading. If he’d agree that there’s a serious problem, his registrations likely would have dropped a bit. And the comment is so vague that it’s not only easily dismissed, it doesn’t even make much sense.
It would seem a lot of folks involved in youth sports, particularly youth football, the most embattled of the bunch, are objecting to the attention they’re receiving from health professionals and parents about safety.
Feeling the ground shake beneath the sport we love is scary, no question, but rather than deny the force that’s causing the quake, we need to confront it directly, which means acknowledging its existence.
Is there a note of hysteria within the uproar? Sure. No question. Are all the people who are roaring truly informed? No. They’re not. So should we then use these facts to justify dismissing the issue completely? No. We really can’t. That would be stupid. And dangerous for our kids.
The Youth Sports Safety Alliance reports some alarming statistics that suggest we need to pay attention, such as: 15.8 percent of football players who sustain a concussion severe enough to cause loss of consciousness return to play the same day; 100,000 to 300,000 sports-related concussions in which the athlete loses consciousness occur each year, while only one in 10 athletes who suffers a concussion loses consciousness.
What we need to do is seek out authoritative, research-based information in order to understand the reality of the situation and then develop a clear, well-informed opinion. Here are just a few good places to go:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a free program called Heads Up: Concussion in Youth Sports through which they disseminate information to parents, coaches and athletes about all aspects of the issue. On the linked page you’ll find the Heads Up Tool Kit for Youth Sports, through which you can download fact sheets, quizzes, posters and other informative pieces.
The Youth Sports Safety Alliance provides information on all types of youth sports injuries. Its membership includes a variety of distinguished organizations, such as the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Academy of Neuropsychology.
At sportsconcussions.org, you’ll find plenty of science-supported information on the subject, along with opinions from doctors throughout the country. This nonprofit organization is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Coalition that fights for youth sports safety legislation.
According to a study published last year by the CDC, the number of young people diagnosed in emergency rooms with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) has more than doubled in the past decade has more than doubled. And that’s good news! It shows that informed parents now are having their kids diagnosed and treated rather than ignoring the problem. Consequently, the number of kids admitted to the hospital for TBIs has dropped dramatically.
Finding the latest and most authoritative information is crucial for all parents and coaches. With it they can make clear-headed decisions about their kids’ health and safety.