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Is It Safe For Your Child To
Play Football ?

by Andrew Cannon MHS,PT

Director of Sports Medicine
Northeast Rehabilitation Health

Anybody who watches football on
television knows that the only plays that are replayed frequently are
touchdowns, turnovers and hard hits. If a player’s helmet gets knocked
off all the better in the oohs and the ahhs category. Except, is that
what we want our son or daughter to be the recipient of ? I believe
that we view that killer hit differently when our child is the on
being hit. Is football safe for our kids to play ?

A study conducted by the US Consumer
Product Safety Commission found that organized football among 5 to 15
year olds had per capita 12% fewer injuries than organized soccer for
the same age kids. Football also had 50% fewer injuries than bike
riding and 74% fewer injuries than skateboarding.

This does not change the fact that
kids will get hurt in any activity they participate in. However, the
following tips will help to decrease the seriousness and frequency of
injuries when your son or daughter plays football.


All kids do not need to participate
in pre season conditioning. All kids would benefit from regular
exercise to improve the strength of their muscles, heart and lungs.
A child who goes from the television or computer as their main
activity to playing football will not be prepared to tolerate the
physical stresses and are at a greater risk of injury.


Poor leadership and the excessive
emotional involvement of coaches and parents can subject the young
athlete to emotional stresses they are not and should not be ready
to shoulder.


It is the primary role of the
young athlete, coach, parent and sports medicine staff to give early
attention to the complaints of pain or dysfunction. "Sucking it
up" is not what the injured young athlete should be taught.
They need to be educated in which pains are OK and which are not.


Every team sport in the country
was initially designed to be played by adults. All involved should
know the special rules that kids need to play by.


From shoes to helmet, proper
equipment for kids in football will minimize the risk of injury.
However, even with proper equipment the risk of injury is not


There is no substitute for proper
nutrition, fluid intake and adequate sleep. Nothing can compensate
for a lack of any of these three cornerstones.


A recent talk by Lyle Micheli, MD,
the leading authority on sports injuries and children in the
country, concluded with the statement that a relaxed attitude
towards sport is the most effective technique for injury prevention.
Children must be able to enjoy playing sports without being overly
pressured to win at all costs by adults who lack the proper
consideration for the developing bones, joints and emotions of the
young athlete.