We all play sports and for the most part we understand the risks associated with the games we love. In today’s society we hear things like, “you have to play hurt” or, “play through the pain,” and I have always admired stories of athletes of yesteryear who played with horrific injuries and sacrificed their bodies for the betterment of the team’s overall cause.
Situations where Ronnie Lott had his finger amputated so he wouldn’t miss any time in 1986, or Willis Reed taking a very large needle to dull the pain of a muscle tear in 1970 were bedtime stories my father passed down to me and made me wish that one day my exploits would stand up next to these legends.
Playing with a sprained ankle or a bruised knee are one thing, but today is a new age and now we have technology that shows us that we could seriously affect our lives with head injuries we sustain in peewee sports.
High schools around the area have begin implementing ImPact Testing to help the staff determine an athlete’s ability to return to play after suffering a concussion. Tests like these have been used in college and professional sports for years, but finally the technology has made it into high schools as well. Rye High School started using it in 2009 and other schools, such as Pearl River, tested it out more recently.
"It is really a tool to help in the effort to identify and better manage concussions sustained by student ahtletes," said Pearl River Director of Athletics Todd Santabarbara. "I think we have become a great deal more conscious. People are becoming more educated (about concussions)."
“A head injury is a serious thing,” said Steven Ricciardi a sophomore on the Army football team who suffered a concussion in practice earlier this year. “Concussions can happen in any sport, you just always have to be aware.”
In the NFL there have been notable players who have committed suicide by shooting themselves in the chest, presumably so they can donate their brains to science. The premature deaths of Dave Duerson and Junior Seau have sent shockwaves through the league, and leave several players questioning what awaits them on the other side of retirement.
New York Jet linebacker Bart Scott recently told the New York Daily News that he doesn’t want his 7-year-old son to play football because of the threat of head injuries. Scott even went as far to say that he is discouraging his son.
“I don’t want my son to play football,” said the Jet. “I play football so he won’t have to. With what is going on, I don’t know if it’s really worth it.”
Scott isn’t the only player who feels this way. Kurt Warner has also stated he would prefer it if his boys stayed off the gridiron. Scott' and Warner’s sons may turn to another sport but several other young athletes will put on helmets and cleats and hit the turf for football season.
Does the risk of head injuries in youth sports scare you?