My Life as a Sports Dad

I was reading an article on the CPR Law site about how dangerous sports are for children where it ranked various sports and started to think about my own experiences as a sports Dad with children that have played three primary sports: basketball, volleyball and lacrosse. Add to that bike jumping, as my son loves to head over to the (world-class) local bike park for some adventures and that’s four primary sports.

So how dangerous have they proven to be? Fortunately, not too bad at all.

boy playing lacrosse
My son in full lacrosse gear.

I have certainly seem kids get hurt at sporting events, notably basketball where I’ve seen at least a couple of concussions occur, including one middle school game at the local YMCA where the boy in question whacked his head on the court so hard that everyone shuddered at the noise. He was dazed and dizzy on the sidelines for the rest of the game, though I don’t know if his parents took him to the doctor afterwards for a concussion checkup. I hope they did.

Both my daughters have played volleyball and that’s been remarkably injury free. The primary complaint after a game was exhaustion, but of all the sports, volleyball is nice because the teams don’t mix it up: each stays politely on their side of the net so your greatest danger are your own teammates and a wild ball.

Lacrosse? Well, that’s a different story, and when my son played, that was a lot of running around, feeling somewhat invincible in your padded outfits and swinging at other boys with your LAX stick if anything untoward happened on the field. Again, I saw injuries, but fortunately not my own son, and unlike other sports, Lacrosse has a ritual in the game that if any player is injured that all the other players “bend a knee” and wait quietly while the injured player is assessed and either allowed back into the play or helped off the field.

Perhaps the most dangerous has been bike jumping, and as my son learned the sport, he definitely had some wipeouts that must have hurt, wipeouts that were “uhm… can we go home now, please?” level injuries. No hospitalization, no broken bones, but definitely scrapes, blood and tender muscles for a few days as he recovered from the tumble.

According to the original article, though, football is the most dangerous sport a child can play. Apparently the rate of injury is 4 per 1000 “athletic exposures” and rate of concussion is 11.2 per 10,000 practices and games. Sounds low, but if you figure that US News reports there are over 21,000 high schools in the United States, that means there are approximately 20 concussions that occur each day of football season (assuming that every school has a team, of course).

My son is now playing on a high school soccer team and that turns out to be one of the other most dangerous sports for youth. Perhaps surprisingly, girl’s soccer is more dangerous than boy’s soccer too, with 2.46 and 1.69 injuries per 1000 athletic exposures. In 2012, there were 99,068 emergency room visits for soccer-related injuries, though it doesn’t differentiate between high school and other soccer players.

volleyball team
My daughter’s volleyball team.

The third most dangerous sport, if you’re curious, is ice hockey. Given the fights I’ve seen at pro games and the aggressiveness of the people I know who enjoyed this sport, I’m surprised it’s not #1 with a proverbial bullet.

Perhaps we’ve just managed to be lucky with our children’s sports activities, but it’s like car accidents: it only takes one time, one bad tackle, one awkward landing, one trip to cause major health issues. Maybe I should have pushed them to be on the tiddlywinks team…?

Tip: you can learn more about concussions and brain injuries at the CPR Law Web site.


One comment on “My Life as a Sports Dad

  1. I think what it boils down to is this: Coaches need to enforce and stress proper technique for all sports.

    Playing a sport is just as dangerous as driving a car. The risk is there, we understand it, but we still do it. I’ve never been injured in a sport, been hurt though. It’s the associated risk we take. Coaches should stress safety first, but that’s not always the case.

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