On Twitter yesterday I commented on the words Jim Nantz spoke on “Face the Nation” regarding concussions (emphasis mine);
“[r]esearch shows that at the college level, a women’s soccer player is two and half times more likely to suffer a concussion than a college football player. I don’t hear anyone saying right now, ‘should we put our daughter in these soccer programs?'”
Huge props to Jason Lisk of bigleadsports, for doing the work of digging to find the information that Nantz used in the interview. The long and short of Lisk’s adventure was that he could not find a specific connotation of such claims. The 2007 article he cited in his wirte-up can be found here, Concussions Among United States High School and Collegiate Athletes, via nih.gov. You can look and see what Lisk and myself see, football concussions occur more than female soccer concussions – except for an anomaly (very small one less 4%) – in college football and female college soccer. Lisk also notes this was a 2007 study, although ancient in the realm of concussions, it is very solid and worth citing.
A repeat of the above study could not be found and probably should be done, however there are plenty of “concussion incidence” research in the high school sports. Those can be found by simply going to ‘Google Scholar’ and defining your terms. Here is a very good one regarding concussions alone, Marar et Al_ Epidemiology of Concussions, where the football vs. girls soccer numbers are; 6.4/3.4 (that is per 10,000 athlete exposures). This is a 47% increase as compared between the two sports, almost two-time as likely. More important is that this information was published a year ago, some of the freshest information out there.
Specifically Nantz was using collegiate soccer as his “trump card” in the case for football. Not only is collegiate soccer a rare occurrence for those playing soccer, it is not nearly as populated as high school and youth soccer, where the concussion problem is WAY lower than football.
Not only was Nantz – and Limbaugh – spewing information that is both hard to find (no source) and outrageous to this author, it is completely irresponsible to even suggest that female soccer is more “dangerous” than football, in terms of concussions.
Here is my diatribe from twitter last night;
There is no doubt concussions in soccer, there is no doubt females report more concussions, there is no doubt stats say concussions in common sports b/t male and female; there are more REPORTED concussions in female sports. However there are not 2.5x the concussions n soccer compared to football. This is a great time to once again state the real problem here.
The injury is not the elephant in the room, it is the poor and mismanagement of concussions that is the rest of the iceberg under the water.
Sports carry a risk of injury, some more than others; concussion incl. No one should stop playing sports. It’s a risk assessment approach. When looking at kids, the parental units are in charge of this risk assessment. Kids cannot grasp tomorrow let alone 20+ years down road.
Instead of the NFL (and their “buddies”) attacking girls soccer, or any other sport for that matter, take a look inward and get information of what the real problem is. More good work can be done by the NFL or anyone that wants to make an impact if resources were put in to address the assessment and management of concussions. If everyone would begin to have the common view that a concussion is out ‘x-y’ days with the notation that every individual is unique (I prefer the 12-28 day model*), then people would start to understand and accept the injury.
Concussions are going to happen in sport and life. Its how we deal with the injury that will make all the difference in the world. All of that being said; limiting exposure and contact is something that must be adopted at levels below the NFL (they already have limits). It should be addressed now.
And if you are reading this and thinking I am trying to take away football or sports, then you obviously have not read here enough. I am trying to save the sports we all love. The longer the issue is dodged and people throw up smoke screens, like Jim Nantz (subtract respect from this guy), the better the chance the sports we know will be gone, kind of like boxing – the sport of kings.
Dustin, in large part I do agree with you. However I do think it is a valid thought. So many times authors, politicians, physicians, and others have come out and asked the question: would you let your son play football? Nobody seems to want to ask the questions: Would you let your daughter be a cheerleader? Would you let your daughter play soccer?
It is disappointing to me that we as a society continue to target football as the sole culprit for concussions. As I’ve said before and I’ll continue to say. “Not just males; not just football.”
Children will get concussions and break arms falling out of trees. We certainly do not want to discourage health activities. Accidents happen, and we live an learn.
Would I let a child play football? Probably not as the culture is completely a mess (same reason I would not let a child be a cheerleader). Children under 14 should not be exposed to unnecessary intentional head trauma period. Coaching is poor, equipment is miniature versions of those designed for adults, and there is poor medical care. It is interesting USA Hockey under pressure from Canadian action had to eliminate checking until 14.
Football as currently played is designed to deliver repeated head trauma. Hockey doesn’t become boxing on skates until minor league and is not tolerated in the international games. As far as soccer, exposure at the professional level is a concern. Women’s soccer problems are more complex and are beyond the scope of this post.
On the other hand, are you telling me former professionals like Chris Mason can’t teach the skills necessary to become professionals in flag football? Nonsense. Most coaches are trying to make up for various inadequacies by trying to convince young men that they have a chance to make it to a scholarship that is a lottery ticket. On the other hand, lottery tickets don’t cost you for the rest of your life. The tiny fraction of players who have the ability to win a scholarship are instantly recognizable. Selling the dream to Johnny Tackling Dummy is exploitation. Children should have exercise and have fun. The professional game should be left to few with the right genetics and drive who wish to endure and destroy their health as a consequence of a career choice.
Football has gotten a pass for too long. No accountability. Players passed through school and coaches exploiting children for profit. The Leave the bill to be picked up by society. Football claims to make men. It might have once but not now. Players engaging in criminal activities are given passes whether in Ohio high schools (Gang Rape), or D1 programs at Notre Dame (Rape) or on the Ravens (obstructing justice/accessory to a double murder). Hey, its football. Penn State even proved it was willing to tolerate the sexual abuse of children to keep the defensive coordinator happy.
How about the NCAA? Makes millions for the the networks, the coaches, and some schools. The NFL gets vetted labor for free. The Labor get degrees in eligibility, get cut if they can’t perform, left in debt and with no medical coverage for the damage done to them.
How about the NFL? Shoot them up with whatever, throw them on the field, and once the player is used up kick ’em to the curb. Broken men with broken minds and both the NFL and NFLPA turn their backs to them. 78% suffer financial problems within 5 years of retirement and 74% are divorced.
Does football deserve focused attention? Yes. Its problems can be resolved but first its culture needs to be cleaned up.
How did you get the idea that football is “designed to deliver repeated head trauma”? In fact, for those who actually know something about football, the head is NEVER used. The reason there is head trauma in football is from this incredible mistaken idea. Boys come into high school not having played in youth and they, like you, think they are supposed to use their heads lowing them for a tackle. Any boy who has played earlier in youth has been taught over and over and over again how to play properly while he is still small and slow and while his opponents and teammates are small and slow to NEVER use his head. I’d love to see a study of kids who learned to play football in youth, learned the proper techniques, and those who start in high school when for some odd reason their mom decides that it’s now it’s safe when youth wasn’t. I’d wager that the experienced players have little head trauma while those who have the mistaken idea that football players use their heads are often injured. It’s much easier to teach a 7 year old who isn’t looking for glory NEVER to lower his head than it is to teach a 14 year old who thinks he’s suddenly an NFL star. You lower your head in youth, even in practice, and you’re off the field.
Hockey, football, and lacrosse are dangerous sports to start at the high school level. They aren’t something you can “pick up” in one pre-season practice when age and weight are suddenly not a factor. Parent’s desires to keep their little kids safe actually harm them in the long run because they haven’t learned how to play in an environment where they’re small, slow, age structured, and malleable.
PLEASE don’t continue the fiction that anyone is supposed to use their head when playing football, that leads to disaster. Make sure people understand that the head is NEVER used. The helmet isn’t a battering ram, it is there to protect not as a tool.
I understand your point on this… However when making a proper tackle you head will get in the way, always… The sport is designed as full contact, and just because you are not using your head does not mean that it won’t be involved…
The helmet is for protection, not a weapon – clearly stated on this blog and in my opinion…
As for youth vs. not playing until HS, the empirical data suggests that players beginning at a later age sustain less head trauma and concussions. Main reason being bigger and more coordinated… The ancillary reasons are that coaching at that level is much better and safer…
Thanks for the comment…
That was the crux of my twitter rant… All sports carry the risk of injury… Concussion is just another injury… And honestly Hopper, people wouldn’t hammer the sport of football if it wasn’t so popular and ‘visible’… Its not like womens soccer has a platform on a weekly basis on the biggest networks and draws crowds and audiences for information to be shared…
FTR, I support football, I am trying to save the sport…
“When looking at kids, the parental units are in charge of this risk assessment.”
A big problem is that many parents are not making informed decisions – some are still in the dark. To be honest, it’s actually difficult to find good information about the true risks of various sports/activities. Numbers and claims vary widely. Safety precautions, awareness, education, coaching ability/training/experience/attitudes and medical access also vary greatly between schools, clubs and leagues.
I would like to see evidence based information used to make sports safer, but fear we may just see more waivers and obfuscation. If, as a parent, you need to sign a waiver for every activity your child signs up for, you can start to get complacent. In the absence of good, solid injury information, you’re also much more likely to fall for questionable claims.
Since my son’s concussion, I have started educating myself AND reading the waivers. I have been shocked to find waivers that outright state the club or facility is not responsible for even negligent acts that caused injury to my child. Now while I have been told a waiver like that would not hold up in a court of law, it tells me that the club or facility is not interested in partnering with me in providing a safe (not injury free necessarily but safe) environment and/or activity for my child.
And I still see very little in the way of parent/student athlete education occurring in club sports, school sports, or local sporting facilities. I was heartened to see so much attention being brought to concussions on Sunday (some good information and some not so good) but I continue to be disheartened at the local level. Parents are not getting the information they need to make an educated decision until it is too late and they are sitting in an ER being told that their child has a brain injury. There are no guarantees in life or sport but there are ways to put our kids less at risk and we just are not there yet as a society.
It tells me there a bunch of sue happy people that always once to blame someone else when things don’t go there way. Or they’re just trying to “cover their kesters.”
Good read, enjoyed the article