Youth Sports FAIL: The 5-Concussion Pee Wee Pop Warner Game - FamilyEducation

Youth Sports FAIL: The 5-Concussion Pee Wee Pop Warner Game

October 26,2012

Have you heard about the central-Massachusetts Pop Warner football game that resulted in five concussions among its pee wee (age 10-ish) players? The teams were so poorly matched that the hits kept coming for the little guys, with several of the players ending up hospitalized. Were the adult coaches' egos so big that they couldn't call for a forfeit (especially the losing team's coach)? It appears that way.

A few factors could be at play here. Some coaches are just too hardcore, forgetting that kids are kids (and those kids are not their kids).

Some parents are too hardcore. Maybe they were a sports superstar when they were a kid. Maybe they sat the bench or never made the team. In any case, so many American parents fit the profile of a youth sports-obsessed maniac. I trust you know the type (maybe a fellow team parent who is SCREAMING her child's NAME at the top of her lungs EVERY GAME!) Sorry -- all caps for emphasis.

And finally, some kids are too hardcore (of course, you cannot place the blame on 10-year-olds, when it comes to a concussion-filled game). What I mean is, kids these days -- largely because of the two factors above -- are taught to never show fear or back down, even if it means risking concussions or other serious injuries. They're taught to fight, fight, fight. If they're not winning, they should at least be scoring and keeping some dignity (for their parents and coaches?).

Also, today's kids have grown up playing Madden and other football video games (where the hits can just keep coming, in a virtual world) and watching NFL games -- where (maybe it's just me?) the men seem to be getting bigger and more brutal! A 6'6" linebacker can be a kid's on-screen idol, but let's keep things real on the 10-year-old playing field, folks.

Sports are great. I participated in school sports every season from 7th through 12th grade, and I hope my kids play sports. Athletics teach kids about teamwork, discipline, perseverance, sportsmanship, healthy habits, and more.

But if more than a couple of kids get seriously injured, it might be time to call the game. I know that can be a tough call, but isn't it all about getting tough, coach?

Read up on the growing risk of concussions in youth sports, and play safe!