Youth sports are always a lightning rod for debate. The role and attitude of parents is analyzed, and properly so. The focus on “winning” versus fun and player development is the subject of much discussion. The balance between an emphasis on sports and education is always important when discussing priorities with your own children who play sports.
And there is, again quite correctly, a current concern about concussions in youth sports.
While we should not be instilling fear in our children, helping them understand and be aware on the field of play has to be a good thing. I read with interest a recent article in The Globe & Mail (see http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/crosbys-concussion-felt-at-youth-hockey-level/article1922939/ ) about how the Sydney Crosby concussion story is affecting youngsters and their families.
The article references the concussion suffered some weeks ago by the young Pittsburgh Penguins superstar and how young players have been impacted by that event. Concussions (and “head shots”) have been at the forefront of hockey discussions in recent years, along with hitting from behind. But that a star player—one that youngsters look up to—has been affected has generated even more awareness.
That’s a good thing.
I’ve posted here before that while we don’t want to completely overhaul a sport (hockey, in this instance) that many people love—and have, for generations—the game has evolved and can indeed be dangerous. This is especially so at the high speeds the game is played at now at the professional level, with the battle armor equipment that is worn, ostensibly for “protection”.
But the real challenge will be if we can slowly change attitudes that encourage “toughness” and aggression from very early ages. It breeds a mentality that may be useful at the professional level—where some athletes earn millions of dollars annually—but is largely out of place for the more than 99% of the young population that will not have a long-term future or a career in sport.
This attitude shift won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight. Perhaps the Crosby injury, as unfortunate as it is, will herald a willingness at least to modify our thinking, if only a bit.