“The NFL has chosen to build its brand on the broken heads of kids,” writes columnist Sally Jenkins in her recent Washington Post article “NFL must pay for its handling of concussion issues — or Congress should intervene.”
Jenny Moshak could not agree more.
Moshak, who for 25 years was athletic trainer for the University of Tennessee’s Lady Vols basketball team under the legendary Pat Summitt, has been sounding the alarm for years about youth sports and keeping it all in perspective. Her book, Ice ‘n’ Go, is in large part a plea to parents, coaches, and organized sports programs to remember that youth sports is about using exercise as a part of healthy living and developing social and problem-solving skills, not training 7-year-olds to become professional athletes. The price, Jenny says, is just too high.
“The philosophy of ‘the earlier, the better’ suggests that if a child starts young enough, she or he will have a better chance at the pro’s,” said Moshak. “This concept is a myth. There is zero evidence to support that it’s true. Some high school football teams have shut down their entire season due to injuries. And the problem is not just football. For every Tiger Woods or Mia Hamm, there are thousands of kids whose careers ended very early because of physical injuries, emotional issues, or burnout. Our kids are paying a very high price for the failure to make them safer when they’re playing sports. We must keep sounding the alarm until the people making the decisions sit up, listen, and do something about this.”
“The lessons in [Ice ‘n’ Go] are valuable for parents of young athletes along with coaches of elite athletes.” —Tara VanDerveer, Stanford Women’s Basketball Coach
Moshak retired from the University of Tennessee in 2013 and is currently on assignment in Russia providing athletic support for the UMMC Ekaterinburg Women’s Basketball Club, whose roster includes Candace Parker, Diana Taurasi, Kristi Toliver and Deanna Nolan. Jenny, with Chicago native Debby Schriver, is the co-author of Ice ‘n’ Go: Score in Sports and Life (University of Tennessee Press; $29.95).