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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

On Saturday, July 5, Building J on the Western Waterfront was opened to the public for a free concert of classical music played by talented youth in the Oyster Bay Music Festival. The acoustics in the large metal shed were lively as the backdrop of the Ida May, a wooden oyster dredge under construction, lent artisanal flavor to the rich stew of mostly sea-related musical selections. People sat on stacks and benches of freshly milled wood or stood in the cavernous space. They soaked in beautiful solos, duets and trios that combined voice, piano, flute, cello and violin. Frank M Flower & Sons provided fresh oysters that engaged the palate, and representatives from Steinway & Sons gave a quick overview of how their pianos are made, relating several aspects of their meticulous process to the construction of the Ida May.

Last week was one of Oyster Bay’s biggest, most anticipated summer events, the Italian American Society’s St. Rocco’s Festival. Returning to its usually spot in Fireman’s Field on Shore Avenue, the festival was filled with amusement rides, live music, and great food and company.

“We come every year to St. Rocco’s with friends,” said Laura Regan of East Norwich. “The rides and awesome food make it a lot of fun.”


Sports

Oakcliff’s intensive training program provided a high level of competition last weekend at the U.S. Women’s Match Racing Championship in Oyster Bay.

This year, the teams selected for the event were highly ranked through the United States, and several of the competitors are past and current Oakcliff trainees, including Elizabeth Shaw, Kathryn Shiber, Madeline Gill, and Danielle Gallo.

A total of 11 members of St. Dominic Track Team (grades 1-8) recently medaled at the Nassau-Suffolk CYO Championship Finals at Mitchel Field. In the finals, the athletes competed against the finalists from all three regions, representing more than 2,500 athletes from 23 other parishes.

In addition to the student athletes’ success, the track coaches were honored as well. St. Dominic CYO Track coaches Phil Schade (grades 1-3), Julie and Mike Keffer (grades 4-6) and Rich Cameron (grades 7-8) were selected by peer coaches in their region for the NSCYO Team Sportsmanship Award. The Saint Dominic CYO track program, in its second year, has already proven to be a force to be reckoned with and the young runners are among the best on Long Island.


Calendar

OB Band Concerts

Wednesday, July 23

Music Under The Stars

Friday, July 25

Annual Chicken BBQ

Saturday, July 26



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