The image of youth sports in America is currently changing

The image of youth sports in America is currently changing. It is becoming more and more common for youth athletes to begin their competitive careers around age 7, and many even getting into organized athletics as early as the age of three. There is currently an estimated 25 million school based athletic programs, and almost 22 million organized community based athletic programs for kids in the United States according to the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports at Michigan State University, making the likelihood of kids getting injured inevitably unpreventable. According to a study done by The Steadman Clinic, athletic injuries are currently the third leading cause of trips to the emergency room for kids under the age of 11, and the largest cause of injuries in school. The study on injuries in youth athletics also states that more than two million kids on record visit the emergency room for injuries stemming from sports, and another six million are evaluated by their local doctor’s office or physical therapy clinic. These numbers also don’t take in consideration all the injuries that go untreated or are treated at home by the parents. Despite the amount of injuries caused by action and physical sports, they seem to have many positives at a young age, and with slight tweaks and advanced padding we can make these sports even safer for our kids without damaging the flow of the game.
Physical activity is a necessity in the growth of children and their health. However, if the physical activity level becomes too intense or too extreme for any one not just kids, tissue breakdown can occur causing an injury. Injuries from over training and overuse are frequently seen in adult professional and recreational athletes, but with kids taking sport so seriously now a day these injures and increasingly being seen in children. The biggest reason for the increase in overuse injuries in kids is from more people focusing on specialized training, and over working their undeveloped bodies. The injuries most commonly seen in youth that over train can be anywhere from stress fractures, tendinitis, bursitis, apophysitis to osteochondral injuries of the joint surface, these injuries are much less common when kids are involved in just the game itself, and typically begin to present themselves after practices or intense training. We want kids to excel in sports and love the simple pursuit of play. The best way to promote youth athletics is to make sure our kids our safe throughout the game to enjoy themselves A study done by Andrew R Peterson on a group of 2.8 million youth athletes shows that more than 63% of athletic injuries happen in practice instead of a game, so It would be best to start there.
Participating in youth sports from a young age is a wonderful way for any child to develop important lifelong skills and maintain a healthy lifestyle at the same time. Youth sports gives kids an easy outlet to get their required exercise, but it also promotes mental and psychological advances as well. It is known that children who participate in sports are less likely to drop out of school, and become involved in drugs and alcohol activity, while they also excel in academic performances and sociability. Youth sports can be as simple riding a skate board or bike. There are so many benefits from youth sports its almost impossible to name them all. To name a few, youth sports helps majorly with physical development starting at a young age, aids in weight control, improves endurance, builds character, boosts self-esteem, develops teamwork and social skills, teaches discipline, promotes healthy competition, often times even providing guidance for out of place youth, and so much more that it is almost worse for your kids to not participate in sports starting at a young age and continuing into their teens.
However, despite the benefits of youth athletics, kids still seem to keep getting hurt at a slightly alarming rate, and its only getting worse. The occasional bump and bruises are typically expected when kids compete or are involved in athletics, but according to the study done by The Steadman Clinic more than 1.45 million children last year suffered a sports-related injury that was severe enough to send them to the emergency room. “Sprains and strains, fractures, contusions, abrasions and concussions top the list of sports-related ER diagnoses for kids ages 6 to 19 — at a cost of more than $935 million each year”, according to a report from the non-profit advocacy group Safe Kids Worldwide. Like in previous studies, the new report shows that in sports in which both girls and boys participate, girls report a higher percentage of injuries. Among youth basketball players, for example, 12.5% of girls seen in the ER are diagnosed with concussions, compared with 7.8% of boys. To some people those numbers may sound high, but the true number is more than likely even greater, says Neeru Jayanthi, a sports medicine physician at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago. This is likely because the study didn’t include the many kids that go to an urgent care center, or to see their regular doctor rather than the ER, says Jayanthi, who was not involved in the study. The figures also don’t seem to highlight the significant number of overuse injuries. There is an alarming amount of injuries happening in youth athletics, and It would almost be a crime to them to not help prevent these injuries and make the game safer for everyone.
For many people, the new research and news released on CTE is enough to keep their kids out of youth athletics to keep them safer, but they often don’t take into consideration the amount of benefits that athletics offer at a young age. For people who saw the movie Concussion, they likely got the false interpretation that everyone who plays football is likely to suffer head trauma leading to life long effects, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. To start, most research done on NFL players and other professional athletes is a very acute group of people who have been involved in the sport for likely their whole life, and therefore are much more susceptible to these types of injuries than your average person. For the average person, their athletic career hardly lasts past high school, and after that the physical activity engaged in is much less dangerous than before. Because more people compete in sports at a young age rather than when they get older it is important to start making youth athletics safest, starting from the entrance into the sport. The people who are scared off by studies and statistics on injuries in youth athletics also usually ignore the statistics that support youth athletics, and the benefits they can bring to a child’s life.
It is hard for anyone to ignore the increasing rate of injuries in youth sports, and something must be done to keep our sports safer starting at a young age but preventing a child from competing or just having fun due to the risk of injury is something we don’t want to force people to do. There are many sports that are much less physical and dangerous than football, hockey, skiing, and more that kids can participate in that offer the same health and social benefits as these sports. Although injury is unpreventable entirely, sports such as tennis, track and field, swimming, and more offer the same benefits at a much safer rate and are a possible solution for parents who don’t want their kids participating in contact sports. Sport is a way for kids to relieve stress, make friends, and increase their social skills in a scholastic setting, and leads to much more than just being healthy. According to a study done by 4x Olympian, Coaching Consultant ; Director of Athlete Assessments, Bo Hanson, 95% of Fortune 500 executives participated in high school athletics, and 96% of dropouts in 14 school districts in seven regions of the nation were not participating in an athletic program. Although there are many other factors involved it is hard to ignore these statistics and the fact that youth athletics play a huge part in a child’s life and developing extremely important life skills.
Whether you are involved in athletics for competition or fitness, no one wants to miss any time because of an injury, especially a preventable one. Time away from the game or forced inactivity is something everyone wants to avoid. While it is impossible to prevent every injury, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons says research suggests that injury rates could be reduced by 25% if athletes took appropriate preventative action. The rules are designed, in part, to keep things safe. This is extremely important for anyone who participates in a contact sport, and many people including myself have advocated for advanced rule changes to accommodate the safety of our kids starting at a young age. Whether it be from having action sports stars such as skateboarders and bikers wear more protective gear while performing so kids don’t get the impressions that it is “cool” to ride without protective gear, or football players getting more suitable pads to sustain injuries. Any step is a step in the right direction when it comes to keeping our kids safe. With how many benefits youth athletics brings to an individual it’s almost a crime to not allow your kids to participate in these activities and sports at a young age, and with proper treatment of injuries, advanced padding, and slight rule changes it is possible to make sports safer for everyone beginning at the very first level.
With the amount of kids and teens getting hurt just from practice and training it is almost impossible not to say something or do something. The solution may not be to keep your kids out of athletics completely, but to take the proper steps in making sure you compete safely and know the rules of play. Obviously, there are some injuries that are almost inevitable when competing at a high level, and that is alarming to many, but with proper treatment and recovery these injuries shouldn’t be damaging to your health or future wellbeing. Even with all the positives that come from competing and being active at a young age, it is important to know that many injuries are bound to happen, and preventing all injuries is likely impossible, but it is so important that we take the proper steps now to make the games safer for everyone.