Category Archives: Other Sports

March 2014 Table of Contents for Concussion Litigation Reporter

What follows is the March 2014 (Vol. 2, No. 9) Table of Contents:

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‘Friday Night Tykes’—Forming Character or Scrambling Brains?

Whatever it’s being called — “docuseries” or “reality TV” — Esquire Network’s new series “Friday Night Tykes” is showing the good, the bad, and the ugly of youth football as practiced by the Texas Youth Football Association. In a recent episode, a coach points to the earhole in the helmet of one of his charges and says, “Hit everybody right here. They’re going to lose players, one at a time.”

Those players are eight and nine-years-old, and many of their parents see the coach’s directive as a way to develop toughness and discipline in their children. Chris Hummel, an Ithaca College faculty member, concussion researcher, and certified athletic trainer, sees it differently.

“That kind of coaching is dangerous,” Hummel said. “Concussion education has dominated the sports news for the last three or four years. How can this be the direction given to a developing eight or nine year old?”

Collisions in football are inevitable, but Hummel believes changes in state laws, rules, practice and coaching techniques, and helmet technology can significantly increase player safety, in Texas and everywhere else.

“The Heads Up method of tackling helps,” said Hummel, referring to USA Football’s recommended program of safe tackling techniques. “But tackling should be significantly reduced or even eliminated for those under 12. Limiting the number of collisions per practice or game has far reaching consequences. Typically, a player concussed in youth football takes longer to recover than a player concussed in the NFL. We’re only beginning to understand the possible long term effects of concussions in youth athletes.”

On-field measures work best, Hummel added, when backed by community-wide concussion education—something not evident in “Friday Night Tykes.”

“Teaching parents, athletes, and coaches how to recognize concussions is vital. So are measures making sure athletic trainers are on the sidelines and doctors in the community are current with concussion management. Keeping youth football players safe really does take a village.”

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The Danger of Headers Returns to the Headlines

Influential journalist Stefan Fatsis has restarted the debate oh whether headers in soccer should be outlawed, at least at the youth levels.

The impetus for his column, which appeared in slate.com, were revelations a few days earlier that former MSL soccer player Patrick Grange was suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy when he died in 2012 at age 29 after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a rare, incurable neurodegenerative disease.

“We can’t say for certain that heading the ball caused his condition in this case,” Boston University neuropathologist Ann McKee, who examined Grange’s brain, told the media. “But it is noteworthy that he was a frequent header of the ball, and he did develop this disease. I’m not sure we can take it any further than that.”

But Fatsis did.

“It shouldn’t take much to persuade an impartial observer that heading in youth soccer is pointless. Watch a recreational or even an elite travel soccer game involving preadolescents,” wrote Fatsis.soccer2013

“Heading, when it occurs, is usually a random act. Eyes shut. Head scrunched into neck. Shoulders clenched. The ball usually makes contact on the top or the rear of the skull. It isn’t directed to a specific place—to a teammate, toward the goal, out of bounds. It ricochets to points unknown, in direct opposition to a fundamental teaching tenet of the sport. Players would get better at soccer by learning to control the ball out of the air with other parts of their bodies.”

The Slate story is available here:

http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/sports_nut/2014/02/soccer_headers_and_children_why_kids_shouldn_t_be_allowed_to_hit_the_ball.html

 

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