Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Report Finds Young Athletes Pressured to Play While Injured

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - As young Pennsylvania athletes prepare to take the field for football and other sports this fall, a new survey finds a growing number will likely face an injury during the season.

According to research from Safe Kids Worldwide, an alarming number of young people are hurt as a result of aggressive play, hiding injuries to stay in games, and parents who pressure coaches to keep their kids on the field.

Safe Kids' president and CEO Kate Carr says parents, coaches, and players should come together before the season starts and set ground rules to prevent injuries.

"You can discuss dirty play, hard fouls, and how you're going to deal with them," says Carr. "You can discuss the training of a coach. You can discuss parental behavior on the sidelines. You can talk to athletes about the importance of speaking up."

Late last month, the U.S. District Court for Eastern Pennsylvania ruled that an injured high school football player's lawsuit against the Palmerton Area School District can move forward. The plaintiff in the case claims the player was hit during practice and told his coaches of numbness and disorientation. The player was told to finish practice, but when he was hit again, doctors say he suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Carr says more than half of athletes reported playing while injured, and more than half of coaches felt pressured to put injured players back in the game. She warns this behavior just leads to bigger problems down the road.

"The injury that you play with could be compounded in that game or in that practice. A lot of injuries happen during practice, and that could result in a lifetime of a more serious challenge that you have to face physically, rather than missing a single game."

Carr adds proper technique, strength training and stretching all can help prevent injuries. And she encourages young athletes to only participate in one sport at a time to prevent overuse injuries.

Tom Joseph

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