Tag Archives: Youth Football

Hruby Tuesday Podcast

19 Nov

Patrick Hruby and I discuss the recent article he wrote about making a decision about letting your children play youth tackle football.  It was a great discussion and I hope people learned something along the way.

LINK

Side note: You will hear a dog barking, my kids, their TV show way too loud, and brutal wind howling through a non-secure window (it was Sunday during the brutal storms that spawned tornadoes – keep those effected by those storms in your thoughts)

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UPMC Blazes Trail… Comes up with curious results

7 Jun

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the University of Pittsburgh did something that has not been done up to this point; an intensive study on youth football.  Using geography as its selector the prestigious group looked into Pop Warner football and concussion rates.  The sample size is impressive, over 11,000 athletic exposures over an entire season of play (2011).

However, instead of heralding the work more questions have been raised about the conclusions drawn by lead researcher Micky Collins, PhD.  I don’t want to “lead the witness” before you had the chance to hear yourself, watch Dr. Collins below;

Interestingly enough Dr. Collins’ points regarding the depth and breadth of this investigation are spot on, it was both needed and welcome.  It is good to have a starting point and something to say “this is where we came from” at all levels of sport – with regards to concussions.  After that, I personally Continue reading

Concussion Round Table

12 Nov

Last week The Aspen Institute hosted a round table discussion on “Playing Safely: The Future of Youth Football” to address growing concern about the epidemic of concussions on our youth.  It should be noted that professional athletes are both more mature (in size and brain development) and are adults who can make informed consent decisions.  The issue this panel discussed was for the youth football.

The speaking list was both wide and deep including: DeMaurice Smith, NFLPA, Dr. Gerry Gioa, Chris Nowinski and Dr. Robert Cantu amongst others in attendance;

At the Aspen Ideas Festival in June, a panel featuring concussion experts and former NFL players considered the health safety risks of playing football. Since then, concerns have sharpened, with many parents of young boys saying that tackle football should not start before age 14. At the same time, football also plays a role in addressing the epidemic of physical inactivity. Our roundtable dives deep into the state of football at the youth/community level with a discussion on reforms — and implications on the game up to the professional level.

With awareness beginning to gain traction and definitive research in the area starting to bear fruit this round table Continue reading

Concussion Awareness Helping Change Attitudes

20 Aug

I have stated from day one, that simple awareness of what a concussion is and how it should be handled will help with the epidemic and looming issues in all sports.  Football is the easy target but concussions come from all walks of life, mainly bike riding and wheeled activities like skateboarding.  Awareness is spreading, and along with that there will be changes to the things we enjoy.  They should not be taken away, but to prevent someone from doing that proactive steps must be taken.

Mike Cardillo of ctpost.com wrote an article about such culture change in his neck of the woods, Connecticut;

“There’s always been a culture of football about playing through injury,” Coyne said earlier this summer at a concussion awareness night in Westport. “It doesn’t seem like a real injury, like an ACL tear, so it doesn’t seem important.”

Across the board, only a few years after Coyne last played a down, attitudes toward concussions and how they pertain to the sport of football have changed, if not revolutionized.

And more changes are needed, if we are to stave of those that want to bubble wrap our kids.  The article explained the Pop Warner rule changes with practice, a good first step in my opinion, but there is more to be done without harming the game, as Chris Nowinski stated in the article;

“The way we were playing in the past, a few years ago, I wouldn’t expose any child to where you’re hitting three, four days a week, drills that never should be done with coaches who aren’t trained for concussions. That was the Wild West,” he said. “Now if we truly commit to attacking all the risk factors, which does include assessment and management, then it remains to be seen if it’s safe enough. Then it becomes a personal decision for the parents to make.”

And with that, the injury of concussion is not the elephant in the room, Continue reading

Concussion Article Links – MUST READ

9 May

Since the tragic and untimely death of Junior Seau the concussion issue has begun to fester like a three-day old pimple on a 13 year-old’s greasy face.  It is ready to pop and keeping up with all of the pertinent articles and “specials” has been very trying.  In this post I will attempt to link up and highlight as many as I can (surely I will miss many, however Concerned Mom in the comment section will have more).

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Lets begin with ESPN and the Outside the Lines week-long look at concussions.  I have found this to be must see, my DVR is a testament to this; using previous stories and bringing in commentators on the subject have provided information and even fireworks.  Yesterday Merril Hoge and Matt Chaney did just that – provide information and create fireworks.  You can find the podcast here (panelists begin about 7:30 mark).

Hoge drew my ire earlier this week with his admonishing of Kurt Warner’s statement of being a father, however yesterday he did have a very valid point about the management of concussions.  I have said is ad nausea here: the elephant in the room is the management of concussions, however Hoge sounded a bit “underconcerned” about the actual injury.  Which is where Chaney had very valid points about the exposure of concussions to the youth.  They are both right in my estimation; the management is the larger issue but we are seeing too many too young people being effected by concussions.  There needs to be work in both areas and remember this is not just a football issue.

We have the duty to protect our kids and if that means flag football for 5-13 year-olds then I am cool with that.  If we find after making such a drastic change that has not been enough then we can take it further if needed.  I feel that a change like this will allow a few things: 1) more time to let the brain develop and thus allowing research to catch up to what we know.  2) employ more medical providers in a position to find, assess and manage concussions (see athletic trainers). And 3) begin a culture shift about the seriousness of concussions, after all this is a brain injury.

As Chaney later told me; Continue reading

It may be Pee-Wee Football but there is nothing Pee-Wee about the hits

2 Apr

PBS will be airing a report today about the hits youth football players take while playing the sport that so many love;

Kids who play football make — and take — hits to the head just as hard as any high school, college or NFL player. That’s what the data show; it’s not partisan, it’s not political and it’s not trying to suck the fun out of recreational sports. Journalist Stone Phillips delved into never-before-conducted research by Virgina Tech that could have a long-lasting impact on how little kids suit up for football.

The report by Stone Phillips will be recounting the work done by the Wake Forest/Virgina Tech researchers, posted here in February.

 

Research From The Now

22 Feb

Virginia Tech and Wake Forest researchers Ray W. Daniel, Steven Rowson, and Stefan M. Duma have published a new research article on impact telemetry on youth football players.  The abstract is as follows;

The head impact exposure for athletes involved in football at the college and high school levels has been well documented; however, the head impact exposure of the youth population involved with football has yet to be investigated, despite its dramatically larger population. The objective of this study was to investigate the head impact exposure in youth football. Impacts were monitored using a custom 12 accelerometer array equipped inside the helmets of seven players aged 7–8 years old during each game and practice for an entire season. A total of 748 impacts were collected from the 7 participating players during the season, with an average of 107 impacts per player. Linear accelerations ranged from 10 to 100 g, and the rotational accelerations ranged from 52 to 7694 rad/s2. The majority of the high level impacts occurred during practices, with 29 of the 38 impacts above 40 g occurring in practices. Although less frequent, youth football can produce high head accelerations in the range of concussion causing impacts measured in adults. In order to minimize these most severe head impacts, youth football practices should be modified to eliminate high impact drills that do not replicate the game situations.

There are some very interesting findings in the abstract alone that need to be noted: Continue reading

Mom Seeking Answers and Insight

21 Feb

There are great websites out there to visit to find information about injuries and concussions, I hope this is a good resource for all of you.  We are not the be-all-end-all rather just a piece of the puzzle when it comes to awareness.  There is a great site that is devoted to the Mom’s of the world called “Mom’s Team“, headed by Brooke de Lynch.  A serial emailer sent along a recent letter a concerned mom had about a concussion her son endured while playing tackle football – her son’s age… 8;

The following is a redacted version of a letter one mom of a concussed young football player recently sent to her state legislators in a Midwestern state:

Dear _________________:

As the mother of an eight-year-old who sustained a concussion during bantam football practice, I believe it is essential for the provisions of our state’s youth sports concussion safety law to be applied to all children participating in contact and collision sports held on school grounds. The injuries which occurred on my son’s team of approximately 25 third- and fourth-graders clearly demonstrate that concussion information is necessary for these players, their parents, and their coaches.

The letter is very compelling and articulate, it is worth the jump and read Continue reading

Youth Football Going Forward: Hruby

15 Feb

Patrick Hruby is not new to this blog, as he was highlighted with his commentary on brain trauma and football back in 2010.  His newest article has been out about 24 hours and it has provoked quite the response from many different locations, mostly silence.  There are articles that come out that see like a lightning rod for comments, “End Game: Brain Trauma and the Future of Youth Football in America” has provided the opposite: silence.

It could be that the article appearing on Yahoo! Sports blog The Post Game has not been viewed enough to get a response; very unlikely as it was trumpeted around the Twitterverse by many people.  Rather, I believe, it may have caused many people to sit back and think.  Hruby looked at what Drew Rickerson and his mother Jean (founder/developer of sportsconcussions.org) went through in 2008;

No one had a clue. Not his coaches. Not his teammates. Not even his mother, looking on from her usual spot in the grandstand. On a foggy November night four years ago, Drew Rickerson found himself wandering around the sidelines of a football field in Sequim, Wash., a city of 6,600 on the state’s Olympic peninsula. He was 15 years old, playing quarterback for the Sequim High varsity football team in the final game of the regular season, a week away from the state playoffs. He also was struggling to speak, dazed and disoriented, hardly able to drink water.

Hruby traces the issue from the beginning of the injury to the trials and tribulation of the family eventually to what has been found since that time about the brain injury of concussion.

It is a very well written piece that shows the obvious dilemma that we currently face with youth football, yet we are very unprepared to talk about or even address; Continue reading

What In The What?

21 Jan

So I was reading a Houston Chronicle article sent to us titled “Youth football less dangerous than thought” and came away really confused and to be honest questioning not only the agenda of the article but those interviewed, including two doctors, one high-profile doctor in Houston.

The first quote from Dr. Gary Bock that makes me scratch my head:

“We see more catastrophic injuries among cheerleaders than among any group of athletes,” Brock said. “The risk per hour of activity is seven times greater than with other participatory sports. It cracks me up when parents tell me they won’t let their sons play football but then push their daughters into cheerleading.”

This information would fly in the face of any significant injury tracking that has been done, especially the injury surveillance done by R. Dawn Comstock and her peers (2010-11 Original Summary Report).  The work done by this group is for high school athletes, the only data set we have for athletes that young.  Any other data set for “youth” Continue reading

CA Youth Football Coaches Doing the Right Thing

30 Oct

“If we have a kid that is not understanding the tackling techniques, I cut him,” Nance said. “I tell the parents the first meeting we have that if your kid keeps putting his head down or he isn’t getting it, I have to cut him. We have safety cuts here, and that’s a safety cut. I don’t care if he’s the best player. If he’s putting his head down, he’s a safety risk for himself and the other players.”

That quote is from Ted Nance of Oakmont High School in California.  Placer County in California is teaching its youth how to tackle, and they obviously take it seriously.  This is likely not the only place doing such a good job of setting examples, but Robbie Enos of the Gold Country News Service published a report on this in Granite Bay.

Making changes to the way players observe the game at the highest level, the NFL, is very difficult but the coaches in the story are doing their best to make “cultural” changes, one small step at a time.

“The guys who lead with their heads are doing it wrong,” Reyes said. “I don’t think you’ll ever find a coach who said that’s how to tackle. Your helmet is there to protect you. It is not a weapon, and if you use it like one, you won’t play.”

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