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High-Contact Sports: Help Parents Consider the Risks & Benefits

Kathleen Duncanson, a former student of mine, is an athletic trainer at Berry College. About concussions, she says, the key point is that “real-life professionals are attributing their depression, apathy, suicidal tendencies, behavioral changes, impulsivity, and aggression to the repetitive brain trauma they sustained throughout their career. No one is too young to sustain a concussion, and after sustaining one, they begin to snowball. [Concussions] become easier to sustain, require longer recovery, and the lasting effects continue to multiply.”

Making the Call About High-Contact Sports

Because research is still ongoing, most doctors don’t offer recommendations about high-contact sports. So parents must make the call. During your decision-making, consider these two overarching thoughts:

1. Don’t allow sports to be the end-all, be-all for teens.

Yes, sports come with many advantages. Athletic competition is a huge part of our culture, and that won’t change any time soon. But don’t let kids get carried away pursuing a sport, because it’s not always healthy. It’s tempting for kids to chase the glamour and riches of being a sports icon. So parents must watch out for that type of tunnel vision.

These days, some families relocate just so Junior can play on a certain team or have a certain coach. As leaders of your family, maintain a healthy perspective on kids’ athletic interests. Help them manage their choices, schedules, and expectations. Even if your young athlete goes on to win a Super Bowl ring or an Olympic gold medal, there’s life after sports. So prepare kids for it.

2. When in doubt, seek medical help.

It’s not always easy to identify the most common injuries suffered by active teenagers. That includes everything from dehydration and sprains to fractures and concussions. So if your athlete complains of aches and pains, consult a trusted physician.

Also, it doesn’t hurt to conduct multiple physical examinations for student athletes. An ounce of prevention really is better than a pound of cure.

Many questions arise about whether young athletes should play high-impact sports. Seek answers by prayerfully weighing the pros and cons—and by maintaining open communication with your kids.

This article by David Smith originally appeared here.