Opinion: The true impact of youth athletics

by Cougar News Contributor 427 views0

By Jessy Castellon


Photo by Jim Bloomfield
Photo by Jim Bloomfield

Participating in any sport, whether it’s running track or playing football, teaches the significance of discipline and learning how to act sportingly.

But playing sports also comes with a lot of risks, specifically being susceptible to injury.

About 1.35 million youth athletes a year report having a serious sports injury and among those incidents 14 percent of them are head injuries.

According to Janet Loehrke from USA Today, the most common diagnosed sports injuries in emergency rooms are strains or sprains with about 451,00 of them reported among the 1.3 million injuries recorded.

The top 10 sports categorized “most popular” for injuries year-round include, football, basketball, soccer and baseball because they are the most common when it comes to reported athletic injuries.

It is no surprise that football is first on that list, with a staggering 394,350 injuries reported annually, and basketball comes in a close second with 389,610 injuries.

Etani Tukuaho, 20, is one of the defensive tackles for the COC football team, he shared some of his personal struggles when asked about the injuries he and his teammates have endured.

Tukuaho explained that he had suffered very few injuries that were directly caused by football, except for one recent minor injury that he thought little of at the time it occurred.

He had a fracture in his third metacarpal but claims not telling the coaching staff because he felt it was such a minor injury at the time.

Wrapping it heavily and icing it on his own, was his alternative solution to dealing with the pain since he had recently recovered from a right-hand injury.

“Since this is my first year, I wanted to take all the opportunities that I had even if it meant playing a bit injured,” said Tukuaho.

Although his injury was very minor, he talked about his teammate Joshua Johnson, 18, who endured more significant injuries on the football field.

Joshua Johnson, one of the offensive tackles for the COC football team had torn a tendon in his left pinky finger.

After speaking with physical trainers, Johnson was told that it was just a severe jam.

According to his teammates the tare was so bad that he can no longer bend his finger, he then sought medical attention from a doctor who gave him a diagnoses that it wasn’t likely he’d move that finger again.

Later in the season Johnson was hit from behind by his own running back and was launched forward directly into the hip of a player of the opposing team.

Johnson, knowing he was injured, did not admit to it during the game because he felt the impact did nothing except for temporarily stun him.

After that same game, Johnson had gone to the doctor where he was in fact diagnosed with a concussion that happened to slightly impair his speech and balance.

Johnson was then told to sit and refrain from physical activity for the next two weeks with no heavy lifting or any type of exercise, according to Tukuaho.

Although implementing safer methods to reduce the amount of injuries in sports is a great step forward, a lot of responsibility is put on the shoulders of athletes to obtain them.

There are bad apples in almost every profession, so pertaining to school athletics, what about the players who are willing to put their bodies on the line to make a big play, do they pose a threat to the safety of other athletes?

In addition to Tukuaho, Johnson was asked if he had ever lied about an injury they have endured.

Johnson admitted to not telling the coaching staff about his possible concussion when it occurred because he knew telling them would result in him immediately being taken out of the game.

With so many restrictions that have already been added by the NFL and the NCAA, will the game still be the one we love today?

Restrictions like the illegality of helmet-to-helmet hits like the “crown of the helmet rule,” which is a ban on a ball carrier initiating contact with the crown of his helmet in the open field or by a defender while making a tackle.

With the addition of rules that are adopted by the NFL and NCAA to protect its players, do community colleges and high schools inherit them as well?

Among all injuries player are susceptible to, head injuries such as concussions are the most common especially in contact sports.

But even the smallest injuries can impact a player’s performance, injuries like pulled or torn muscles.

Recently a high school football player unexpectedly died only hours after being hit in the end zone as he scored a touchdown.

Luke Schemm, a senior at Wallace County High in Sharon Springs, Kansas collapsed during the Eight-Man Division I game on November 3rd, 2015.

Shortly after his collapse he was airlifted to a hospital in Denver, but was declared dead a short time later.

The trauma his son suffered “cut off blood flow to the brain,” said Schemms father.

In fact, even professional athletes have sustained dangerous injuries that have put their careers in jeopardy.

Although the force of impact between two teenagers isn’t quite the equivalent of two fully-grown men ramming into each other, the same risks apply.

Since sports safety is becoming such a huge concern, especially in youth athletics, its fair to say we should all be concerned with the undeniable truth that everyone is at risk of injury.

There are methods we learn on our own that give us the ability to determine how far we can push ourselves, on and off the field.

The more aware athletes individually become the easier it will be to adapt to safer tactics that achieve the same goal, if you learn young than there will always be room for improvement in the future.

But becoming an athlete at such a young age could come with a lifetime of injuries at an early age.

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