Weston Warhorse

Will Concussions be the End of Youth Sports?

Tyler Melito, Staff Writer

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The dictionary defines concussion as “a temporary unconsciousness caused by a blow to the head.” The term is also used loosely to describe the after-effects such as confusion or temporary incapacity.” Because of the recent discoveries of concussions through the NFL and World Soccer, the question must be asked. Will these discoveries lead to the inevitable end of youth sports?
Jason Baisley ’18, a member of the Weston High School football team and captain of the boy’s lacrosse team, says, “I think concussions will hurt youth sports as a whole in the future. They are dangerous as they impede the development process of the minds of our youth. However, concussion is the term for only serious collisions between the brain and the skull. Everyone receives minor concussions through any contact with their head. I feel that we do need to protect our youth from major collisions and brain damage.”
However, even with all the research, there are some people who don’t believe that concussions will change anything. People like Sebastian Casellas ‘18, who plays tennis at Weston High School, disagrees with Baisley, saying that; “I do not believe it will ultimately end youth sports. Youth sports is growing and news about concussions doesn’t seem to be stopping parents to play contact sports. I think if there were more research and information about concussions that could be given to the public, then I think contact sports will slowly become extinct.”
Doctors and Neuroscientists across the nation have conducted research exploring the long-term effects of concussions. This research has resulted in steps being taken by schools across the nation to ensure the safety of all student-athletes. In Weston, Mr. Richitelli, one of two athletic trainers and one of the health teachers, told us that;
“I don’t think concussions will be the end of youth sports. There is too much to lose without youth sports-specifically, the benefits of physical activity, the teamwork, personal interaction and cooperation between kids. People may or may not understand how beneficial youth sports really are, from a physical, social, emotional level.”
On the effect of increasing awareness about concussions, Mr. Richitelli adds that he thinks it “will bring on rule changes, especially in collision sports like football, hockey, and lacrosse. There already has been ruling modifications at all levels in regards to things like hits to a QB or receiver, targeting above the shoulder, leading to the crown of the helmet, etc.”
To maximize the prevention of concussions, Mr. Richitelli believes “improvements in protective equipment will be made as well.”
He explains the policies in place that make up the athletic department’s response to a head injury nowadays: “In regards to what WHS does in relation to testing for concussions, we’ve been utilizing the ImPACT Concussion management system for several years now. Athletes receive an ImPACT baseline screening which is stored in a password-protected database. Should an athlete sustain a head injury, a follow-up test is typically done and the comparative results are provided to the physician treating that athlete. I’m not sure if you are aware that all of our coaches need to be trained in concussion awareness modules regularly.”
The steps have been taken by schools across the nation to ensure athlete safety. But one question still remains, what do parents think? Do parents feel that their child should be playing contact sports, and run the risk of receiving a blow to the head and incurring a concussion? Mr. David Melito, a man who has three kids, all of which have played a sport at one time or another where the risk of getting a concussion was high, feels that;
“Yea I can say eventually yes. Because when people realize the effects [of concussions], it is just like smoking where the risks are just not worth it. I just think it is dangerous. Maybe it won’t end youth sports, but modifications probably will be made. If my kids were younger I would probably not have them play sports like lacrosse and definitely not football.”
The arguments have been made for both sides; now it is time for athletes, parents, coaches, and doctors to have informed discussions about whether or not the joys of playing sports like football, soccer, lacrosse, and others outweigh the risks of getting a concussion, and possibly suffering from long-term brain damage.

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Will Concussions be the End of Youth Sports?