SIMMONS: Concussion report stands as cautionary tale for parents

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This is the perfect juncture to stress an obvious point that often is overlooked when the health and education are at stake, and that is this: Parents have to play offense and defense.

It is parents who have to thoroughly understand the “buyer beware” mantra, as a colleague put it.

Parents need not have played a sport to grasp the fact that physical contact sports — unlike, say, tennis or golf — call for assertive and aggressive role-playing, regardless of position.

So don’t be too quick to blame the coach or a player.

The key is to speak with your child, her coaches and the sport itself before giving thumbs up or thumbs down. And that means you do so for no other reason than this:

The committee’s reason found “little evidence that current sports helmet designs reduce the risk of concussions.”

The analysts did stress that young athletes still be properly fitted for helmets, face masks and mouth guards and that they use them to reduce other potential injuries, such as skull fractures, bleeding and injuries to the eyes, face and mouth.

The new study was sponsored by a slew of organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Athletic Trainers’ Association, National Academy of Sciences, National Institutes of Health, and the Departments of Defense and Education.

Robert Graham, director of the national program office for Aligning Forces for Quality at George Washington University, said considerable research is need to both curb and prevent injuries.

“There are numerous areas in which we need more and better data,” he said. “Until we have that information, we urge parents, schools, athletic departments, and the public to examine carefully what we do know, as with any decision regarding risk, so they can make more informed decisions about young athletes playing sports.”

Notice the first group on the list?

That’s right: parents.

It’s great to see budding a RGIII mimicking Ed Smith, the model for the Heisman Memorial Trophy, as he overruns a safety into the end zone for a game-winning TD.

But there are young wannabes following hard-hitting Oakland Raiders safety Charles Woodson out there, too.

And they both need the issue of youth concussions tackled by practically any sensible means necessary.

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About the Author
Deborah Simmons

Deborah Simmons

Award-winning opinion writer Deborah Simmons is a senior correspondent who reports on City Hall and writes about education, culture, sports and family-related topics. Mrs. Simmons has worked at several newspapers, and since joining The Washington Times in 1985, has served as editorial-page editor and features editor and on the metro desk. She has taught copy editing at the University of ...

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