OUR VIEW: A head is not a weapon

Time to get serious about concussions in youth sports

With the start of football and soccer seasons, and the hockey season imminent, there is renewed attention to concussions.

Sidney Crosby​, arguably the best player in the National Hockey League​, has still not fully recovered from a concussion sustained in January. He’s likely to miss the beginning of this season after already missing the last half of last season plus the playoffs.

He’s just the latest, and most prominent, hockey player to be sidelined by concussion. Marc Savard of the Boston Bruins will miss all of the coming season because of post-concussion syndrome. Players like Eric and Brett Lindros, Paul Kariya​, Adam Deadmarsh​ and Pat Lafontaine have all had their careers cut short because of blows to the head.

While pro athletes get the attention, it’s unknown how extensive the problem of concussions is in the amateur, community and weekend warrior ranks.

It’s quite apparent the days of dismissing a blow to an athlete’s head as “getting their bell rung,” waving smelling salts under their nose and sending them out for their next shift are over. Trainers, team doctors and sports leagues are now inclined to err on the side of caution when it comes to head injuries. Last year Football BC enacted a new concussion policy that requires volunteer coaches to stay current with resource material the organization distributes about concussions and they must remove from play any player suspected to have sustained a head injury until they have written clearance from a doctor.

While that helps prevent aggravating existing head injuries, it does little to prevent them in the first place.

For that coaches and players need to be trained not to use the head as a weapon or a target, and equipment manufacturers have to develop pads and helmets that protect athletes, not turn them into human missiles.

– Black Press