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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

Temple Chaverim is hosting a new member open house Friday, May 2  at 8 p.m. The program includes Shabbat services followed by an extensive Oneg Shabbat. The Temple invites prospective members to take this opportunity to meet their dynamic clergy and innovative education director as well as members of our community.

According to Jody Steifman, member of the Temple Chaverim Membership Committee, Chaverim aims to bring the community closer together.

Due to what appears to be a colossal error on the part of the Nassau County Assessor’s office, military veterans and Gold Star families will have to wait for their tax break until next year.

Plainview is one of several local school districts that recently approved resolutions extending an exemption to local veterans, even though budgets and Albany’s tax cap make it a tough choice. Last month, despite concerns about lack of confidence in the validity of eligibility information provided by the county assessor’s office, the Plainview trustees voted to provide a school tax exemption for veterans living in the Plainview-Old Bethpage School District, starting with the 2014-2015 school year.


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