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Examiner
  • Diane Mack: Protect our young athletes from harm

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  • According to a new report from the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, many of the 60 million kids ages 6-18 who participate in organized athletics are getting physical injuries that could sideline them for the rest of their lives as well as psychological bruises that can leave them turned off to any sport.
    Well, after the Sunday Super Bowl, I have several thoughts. I don’t need to worry about writing anything that would affect my children’s play-time, since none of them are in sports at this time, except for some amateur play.
    Oh, where do I start?
    When my son Jeremy was on a full ride to a D-1 Kansas college, I received a call from his coach. Jeremy had broken his fibula in half and all was well, because he had finished the practice. A player’s cleat to his calf eventually sent Jeremy to hospital, after the trainer had kept him playing the entire practice.
    It wasn’t until a few years later that we learned that Jeremy had broken his leg in several places, not just his fibula. You’d think the ortho would have told him or me . . .
    At the time of the injury I suppose I should have asked. But I figured his loss would be a loss and expense to them. Surely, they would look out for his best interests.
    Not.
    In fact there were other injuries. Many of my sons’ football friends would not report their concussions. Otherwise, they would lose their time on the field and their position.
    Helmets and concussions are a greater concern. I don’t care if they are wearing a VSR4 or the “great” Revolution. TBI’s are bad and it take years and years, if ever, to heal from them.
    When they are young, oh my . . . if I had to do it all again, no child of mine would be playing football, until after seventh grade.
    On another matter... as a youth, I grew up in Penn State Territory. Everyone loved Penn State. I even had a few relatives who played college ball.
    Sandusky-ville has been around for some time.
    I believe it is time to not only do an extensive background check, prior to hiring or using a coach, but also do fingerprinting at the state and national level after some sort of a (whew) search of their personal history. You just don’t know.
    I read about Joe Conner, the California high school teacher (and pastor) who was charged in 2013 with multiple felony and misdemeanor counts of molestation.
    A few of his alleged victims were 10-12 years old.
    Then, a high school coach in the Carolinas was running a prostitution ring.
    Page 2 of 2 - I realize sports bring celebrity and money but a molested child gets a lifelong sentence.
    Don’t mean to bring a downer at Super Bowl time. However, we need to protect the children.
    I am not against sports. It was good for my sons (and daughters) and kept them busy and exhausted by the end of the night.
    But please don’t hide or cover up any injury because you want the kid to play. Protect them from physical and psychological injury or concussion. Don’t cover for them when they are drinking or drugging.
    And for heaven sake, follow up on the coach’s history, or coach yourself.
    After all, someday your child will be a provider, and either a father or a mother, and you want them to be healthy and strong. Protect them.
    Sports play is really a short season, in their life. But families are forever.
    Diane Mack is coordinator of Putting Families First, Jackson County’s Family Week Foundation. Email her at jacksoncountyfamilyweek@yahoo.com or visit www.jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org.

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