Friday, February 7th, 2014
“Friday Night Tykes,” a new reality television show set at a youth football league in Texas, is igniting a debate about the fine line between motivation and bullying when it comes to coaches. An essay on Time.com outlines the issue and cites recent research that studies the ways coaches’ attitudes and behaviors can influence kids:
[On "Friday Night Tykes,"] one weeping child is told by his coach: “I don’t care how much pain you’re in! You don’t quit.” Another coach chides a player, “Don’t give me that soft crap,” while smacking him on the head. Two coaches featured on the show, where all of the athletes are 8- or 9-years-old, were suspended last week.
Such conduct by an adult can have serious ramifications for a child. “It can impair social and emotional development and cause substantial harm to mental health,” Nancy Swigonski, a professor at Indiana University’s School of Medicine, wrote last month in a piece in the journal Pediatrics. “When the bullying occurs in an athletic setting, those harmful effects are augmented by the stress kids often feel as a result of athletic competition.”
Swigonski’s article opens with the scene of a parent walking into basketball practice at her daughter’s high school, only to find “the head coach screaming at the team that they lacked intelligence and were lazy because they had not executed a play properly.”
This kind of behavior is hardly uncommon. Swigonski cited one study of more than 800 American children in which 45% said their coaches called them names, insulted them or verbally abused them during play. In another study from the United Kingdom, 6,000 young adults were asked about their experiences in youth sports, and 75% said they suffered “emotional harm” at least once, and one-third of that group said their coach was to blame.
But what often gets lost in these stories is the flip side of the equation: A “true coach”—to use the term favored by Morgan Wootten, the first high school coach to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame—can also make a lifelong difference for a young person, only in a deeply positive way.
This isn’t to say that coaches should be soft or easy. But there’s a clear line between expecting a lot from kids and being abusive. “It’s good to be tough,” Swigonski said. “It’s just not OK to be a bully.”
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oach’s whistle, via Shutterstock
Thursday, October 31st, 2013
Concussions in youth sports are on the rise, and a new report from the Institute of Medicine urges parents of girls to pay special attention, citing a “culture of resistance” that has kept public education efforts from having widespread effect. More from NBC News:
Despite widespread coverage, damage from concussions is underestimated and blows to the head suffered by young athletes often go unreported, according to a report from the Institute of Medicine released on Wednesday. In addition, football helmets fail to protect against concussions, the report found, although the committee, a group of pediatricians, educators, psychiatrists and engineers, recommended protective gear to prevent other injuries.
The number of athletes aged 19 and younger who were treated for concussions and other sports and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries rose from 150,000 in 2001 to a quarter million in 2009, the most recent year for which data is available. In college athletics, the rate of concussions in more than a dozen sports doubled between the school year that ended in 1989 and the one that ended in 2004.
The committee also found that young women and girls have a higher rate of concussions than boys in the sports they play, including soccer and basketball. And although the rate of concussions in cheerleading remain low compared to other sports, for example, the rate of concussions in the sport increased at a rate of 26 percent each year from 1998 to 2008. That marks a greater rate of increase than for any other sport played by young women at the high school and college levels.
While improved diagnosis may account for at least some of the higher concussion rates “there is probably also a difference in the competitiveness in children and their sports,” said committee member Mayumi Prins, an associate professor in neurosurgery at the UCLA. “Children are being trained earlier in sports and they’re focusing on a single sport rather than diversifying. In the female population we do see that the way girls play sports has changed in the last 10 years — they’re more aggressive.”
Without early diagnosis and proper treatment, teens and young kids are at greater risk of repeated concussions and potential long-term damage. One major factor keeping kids from getting treatment: many think it’s their duty to keep mum about their symptoms,and get back in the game.
Image: Girl playing soccer, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, October 29th, 2013
The American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending that kids who suffer a concussion, a common sports-related injury, shouldn’t return to school right away, lest they exacerbate the temporary symptoms of concussion that relate to learning and retaining information. More from Time.com:
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Although children may appear to be physically normal after having a concussion, they may actually have trouble learning new information and retaining it. Going back to school may exacerbate these symptoms, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in a new clinical report presented at the AAP National Conference & Exhibition in Orlando.
Research shows that it takes about three weeks for a child to fully recover from a concussion. If their symptoms are especially severe, they should stay home from school. Even though kids with concussions may appear asymptomatic, they often report difficulty focusing on schoolwork and taking tests, especially in math, science, and foreign-languages. Medical experts are worried that too much learning stimulation can overwhelm a brain that is still recovering, and make it even more difficult for a child to get back on track. If systems are mild, parents can consider sending their kids back to class, but should inform teachers about the concussion so adjustments can be made to the pace of the class if needed. The researchers call this necessary step, “cognitive rest.”
Friday, August 9th, 2013
Young athletes suffer injuries–mostly strains, sprains, and fractures–about once every 25 seconds, resulting in around 1.35 million emergency room visits each year, according to a study by the organization Safe Kids Worldwide. Sports injuries, the group found, account for 20 percent of all ER visits by children. More from CBS News:
“We uncovered some surprising and disturbing data about how often our kids are being injured playing sports,” Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide, said in a statement.
For the new report, researchers from the child injury awareness organization looked at emergency room data collected in 2011 on injuries related to the top 14 sports for kids, including basketball, soccer, baseball, softball, cheerleading and ice hockey.
The most common injuries were strains and sprains, followed by fractures, bruises and scrapes.
Especially concerning though were the researchers found about 163,000 of those ER visits — or 12 percent — were for concussions. That’s about one child concussed every three minutes, Safe Kids points out. Nearly half of the concussions (47 percent) occurred in children between 12 and 15 years old, a “disturbing” trend because younger children take longer to recover from concussions than older ones. Serious and potentially deadly brain swelling is also more common in young people with traumatic brain injuries than adults, the report added.
In March, the American Academy of Neurology issued new guidelines recommending that kids sit out of games after suffering a concussion until they have been cleared by a doctor.
Image: Boy playing football, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, August 30th, 2011
Leading pediatricians are warning parents to keep children out of the boxing ring. The risk for injuries to the brain and face is too great, the American Academy of Pediatrics and Canadian Paediatric Society said yesterday in the journal Pediatrics.
The damage from boxing injuries may be long lasting, Claire LeBlanc, M.D., the lead author of the statement in Pediatrics told CNN.com. From that report:
The main concern is serious head injuries among kids and teens. Young boxers have been known to suffer concussions, just like the pros, but the data on head injuries is scarce, LeBlanc says. The limited government records in the U.S. suggest that the rate of head injuries among 12- to 17-year-olds, as well as older boxers, is about 3 for every 1,000 participants.
Perhaps even more alarming to pediatricians is the creeping possibility, based on studies of professional boxers, that young boxers could develop chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a condition caused by repetitive blows to the head that can lead to dementia-like symptoms later in life.
But youth boxing organizers say they make an effort to keep the sport safe. CNN.com continues:
Minor injuries such as bloody noses, tennis elbow, and cuts are not uncommon, but thanks to protective headgear that covers most of the face and padded boxing gloves that absorb punches, serious injuries are highly unusual, says Joe DeGuardia, the owner of the Morris Park Boxing Club, in the Bronx.
Moreover, sparring makes up only a fraction of training. Young boxers spend most of their time stretching, conditioning, and practicing punch combinations outside the ring, where injuries are “very rare,” says DeGuardia, who is also the president of the Boxing Promoters Association and has been training young boxers for more than two decades.
More to the point, DeGuardia adds, the benefits young people derive from boxing — such as confidence, motivation, physical fitness, and especially self-discipline — “certainly outweigh the risks.”
What do you think? Would you let your child box?
(image via: http://www.hgboxing.com)
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