Monday, February 7, 2011
Concussed Tiger Parents
Last week as I was checking out at CVS, this cover caught my eye. What I found most interesting was the smaller headline at the top: "Health Special: Kids and concussions." I don't normally read Time (given my weekly reading of The Economist, The New Yorker, Sports Illustrated, and People [quite a diverse collection, I know], not to mention my monthly magazine subscriptions and my daily Internet routine, I have little, well, time) but the juxtaposition of these two stories meant I had to pick up the issue.
In the magazine itself the two stories appear back-to-back. I figure on some level this must have been deliberate by the editors. But, then again, maybe not, given that the concussions piece was likely in the works for some time. In any event all these youth concussions, on some level, are the result of American Tiger parents enrolling their kids in competitive sports in the hopes of snagging an NCAA scholarship or a spot in the pros. Before the professionalization of youth sports (think paid coaches, year-round seasons, and early specialization) concussions were the result of child's play on playgrounds and during recess. Now they are the stuff of lawsuits and stress.
Interestingly, in that same week's issue of The New Yorker, Ben McGrath wrote a great piece on concussions and the NFL. The youth component is implied, but the connection between excessive competition, athletics, and injury is clear. When will others see the connections and start devising solutions, like better credentialing of trainers/coaches in youth sports and a limitation of the hours kids can engage in these fun but dangerous activities?