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Letter: Use Your ‘Head’ In Youth Sports

I found it disconcerting that an article titled “Concussions: Stop The Invisible Injury,” which  talked about “concussion prevention,” “fostering an atmosphere of safety first,” “the athlete’s health is first priority,” “protecting an athlete’s future,” “the lifelong impact this injury can have on an athlete,”  and “parents can reinforce a safe sports environment by not promoting or encouraging  moves that might compromise an athlete’s safety,” never once suggested the advisability of simply not allowing one’s young child to endanger his growing brain by playing (tackle!) football, playing other helmet-required sports like hockey, becoming a boxer or playing a brain-rattling (from “heading” the ball) sport like soccer.

The article began with several false premises and assumptions. One is that “a concussion can occur in any sport,” as if it’s as common in basketball as in football. It also said that “a concussion...can occur in both contact and non-contact sports,” as if the incidences are equal in frequency or severity. I daresay concussions are nowhere near as common in baseball as in football.  There’s a good reason that some sports require helmets be worn to protect one’s head and the brain inside the skull.  

I think it’s unfortunate that this article tacitly assumed that football and other concussion-prone sports are some sort of “birthright” that our Bill of Rights guarantees every young boy be allowed to play. It then seemed to forget about “prevention” and only recommends that we do what we can to “reduce the frequency of concussions” and says that the “first step in concussion safety” is “knowing when to pull an injured athlete” out of a game — after he’s already received the blow to his head. That is too much like the proverbial “closing of the barn door after the horse is already out.” It also ignores the age-old wisdom that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”   

Parents often claim that they “would do anything for (their) child;” and they don’t hesitate to forbid other activities dangerous to their child’s health and safety (like smoking and drinking) so I think they should “just say ‘no’” when it comes to activities that routinely cause concussions in many participants.   

I’m a sports fan who loves watching football; but I’m glad that as a child my friends and I only played “touch” football. The basics of the game: running with the ball, and throwing and catching passes were still sufficient fun. But there are so many other team and individual sports which do not routinely endanger one’s brain; such as tennis, volleyball, track and field, swimming, golf, and many others, that I think parents should practice the “tough love” of no football for their kids. NFL football will survive and prosper without your kid. Even if your child beat the astronomical odds against ever reaching the NFL, would you ever want him receiving any of the $765 million they will soon start handing out to retired players with ALS, Alzheimer’s Disease and C.T.E.?

Since the article’s concluding “Top 5 Concussion Prevention Tips For Parents and Coaches” do not suggest actual “prevention” here are my five competing tips:

1. Educate yourself on the seriousness of the after-affects — sometimes lifetime — of concussions on incompletely-formed brains.

2. Educate yourself about the scores of alternative, virtually concussion-free sports available to your child.

3. Do not allow your dependent child to play football.

4. Do not allow your child to become a boxer.

5. Do not even allow your child to play soccer (due to all the “heading”).

 Richard Siegelman

News

“Visitation is up 300 percent,” said Harriet Gerard Clark, Raynham Hall Museum director.

“Two-thirds of them come because of reading the book by Brian Kilmeade, George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved The American Revolution, and seeing the series ‘Turn’ on A&E,” added Tom Valentine, docent, who keeps the list of visitors. Soon the series will include the story of Robert Townsend of Oyster Bay who was known as Culper, Jr. when he was a spy for George Washington.

Alex Sutherland, director of education, nailed his definition. “He was the most important spy for George Washington because he had the perfect cover. He was pretending to be a Loyalist and writing for a Loyalist newspaper and befriending British officers at his coffee shop in downtown New York while secretly collecting information.

As a fitness coach and a mother, Melissa Monteforte of Locust Valley knows how important it is to stay healthy, and how difficult it can be for women to make themselves, and their health, a priority. Wanting to help women take charge and feel more in control, she organized the Fit & Healthy Mamas Annual 5K run, now in its third year, which will take place on Saturday, Sept. 13 from 8:30 a.m. to noon at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow.

“I felt like running was the best outlet when I became a mother; it’s such a great way to get fit and feel healthy and I wanted to share that with other moms,” says Monteforte, 31. “I wanted women to feel celebrated, no matter their fitness level, and to put their health first.”


Sports

Hard work paid off for local athletes Christine Grippo of Locust Valley, Kelly Pickard of Oyster Bay, Bernadette Winnubst of Locust Valley, Steven Quigley of Bayville, Catherine Soler of Oyster Bay, Maria Elinger of Oyster Bay, and Armand D’Amato of Oyster Bay Cove, each of whom won awards in a field of some of the best triathletes from all of Long Island and beyond in the 27th annual Runner’s Edge - Town of Oyster Bay Triathlon, held in and around Oyster Bay’s Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park on Saturday morning, Aug. 23.

Grippo earned top honors in the women’s 30-34 age group with a time of 1 hour, 17 minutes, 36 seconds. Pickard (1:17:39) scored first among the women in the 35-39 age group. Winnubst scored in 1:38:48 to earn third place honors in the Masters Athena Weight Division. Quigley earned the second place award in the Masters Clydesdale Weight Division in 1:23:23. Soler (1:29:12) scored 5th among the women in the 20-24 age group. Ehlinger (1:39:23) was the 4th place award winner in the women’s 55-59 age group. D’Amato (1:42:44) earned top honors in the 70-74 age group.

Ice Dreams, an Olympic Ice Show starring 2014 Olympic Bronze Medalist Jason Brown and aspiring local skaters, is coming to Twin Rinks Ice Center at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow on Sept. 20.

Isabella Skvarla, 13, Julia Tauter, 12, and Chiara Vlacich, 12, all of Oyster Bay, Julia Forte, 12, of Locust Valley and Riley Stein, 11, of Bayville will be skating in the world class show to celebrate the opening of the best figure skating facility Long Island has ever seen.


Calendar

Art In A Meadow

Saturday, Sept. 13

Bayville Oktoberfest

Saturday, Sept. 13 - Sunday, Sept. 14

Hurricane Preparedness

Tuesday, Sept. 16



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com