My son, Murphy, is passionate about playing football. Along with that passion comes bumps, bruises, and a fair share of helmet clashing. The physical intensity and risk of injury rises each year as he ages, and his practice schedule is a grueling 6-8 hour-per-week regimen. Murphy managed to play relatively injury free until well into his third year in 2012.
In May 2013, my eleven year-old son Giovanni was pitching for his little league baseball team in Staten Island, New York. It was the bottom of the fifth inning. He had already struck out two batters and the third batter, about a foot taller than my son, was on deck. Giovanni’s first pitch went right down the middle of the plate. The batter swung and hit, and the ball hit my son in the face.
For many kids, back to school means back to sports. Youth sports are, and should always be, a valuable experience, filled with challenges, competition and fun. But too many kids are stuck on the sidelines because of an injury that is preventable. In 2013, 1.24 million kids sustained a sports injury severe enough to go to the emergency room.
We conducted a survey of parents, coaches and young athletes to explore how the current culture of sports may be leading to unnecessary injuries, and how that culture needs to change.