Many parents are pulling their kids out of athletic programs because they worry about how the increased level of competition in today’s sports makes them more prone to injuries, particularly concussions.
Concussions are mild traumatic brain injuries that affect proper brain function. It’s a blow to the head that typically causes the trauma. However, violent shaking of the head and upper body can also cause concussions. In fact, the word concussion comes from the Latin word concutere which means “to shake violently.”
However, according to Medscape, only 40% of youth concussions are caused by contact sports. The reality is that as kids are so active, they can get a concussion from everyday play or accidents. This doesn’t change the fact that many concussions are from youth sports because of the physicality involved.
The important thing is to educate both athletes and parents about recognizing the signs of a concussion so that they can be reported and treated sooner.
Some people who suffer a concussion may lose consciousness; however, the majority do not. The best person to recognize if they have a concussion is the one who suffered the blow to the head which is why it is vital to educate young athletes to know the signs. Left untreated, those who suffer from a concussion can experience one or a combination of symptoms.
Here are the most common signs and symptoms of a concussion. Some will be noticeable immediately after the blow to the head; however, some symptoms can last for days if left untreated:
- Temporary loss of consciousness
- Seeing “stars”
- Persistent neck pain
- Ringing in the ears
- Changes in behavior and personality
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty remembering
- Problems concentrating
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty sleeping
- Delayed response to questions
- Sensitivity to light and noise
There are also three different grades for concussions:
Grade 1 – Mild: With grade 1 concussions, there is no loss of consciousness, and the symptoms typically last for less than 15 minutes.
Grade 2 – Moderate: With grade 2 concussions, there is no loss of consciousness yet the symptoms last longer than 15 minutes.
Grade 3 – Severe: In grade 3 concussions, the person loses consciousness for anywhere between a few seconds to just under a minute.
Some head injuries are more severe than others. Concussions are typically not life-threatening; however, leaving them unchecked can lead to something more serious. If you suspect that your child has suffered a concussion, continually monitor them for any signs. Explain what the symptoms are so they can help monitor themselves. Observe if there are changes in their behavior and if there is repeated vomiting or if their headache worsens.
Most importantly, never return an athlete who may have suffered a traumatic blow to the head back on the field or court. Before they return to play, they should be medically evaluated by a health professional and cleared.
When it comes to youth sports, there is no shortage of players. Then why are young athletes losing the opportunity to play? The problem isn’t in the numbers of kids interested in sports but in the number of referees that will officiate their games.
The shortage of referees is alarming. Here are the three reasons why the number of referees in the nation is dwindling:
- Number of Youth Teams on the Rise
The interest in youth sports is on the rise. With the introduction of more games, more kids are joining the fun. There’s even a rise in girls’ participation in sports like soccer and volleyball. We have also been a surge in sports like flag football, tennis, gymnastics, lacrosse, field hockey, and wrestling. And with more players, it means there are now a higher number of teams and games to officiate.
- The Pay’s Not Great
A referee’s pay depends on the league or tournament. How much referees get paid also depends on what position they have on the field. Are they an assistant referee or the center referee?
According to a report by lohud, a part of The USA Today network, officials can take home as much as $1,000 in cash per weekend for working club games that are non-scholastic. However, it’s highly doubtful that public schools can pay that rate, possibly paying as little as $92 – $110. The reality is that public school districts don’t have the financial resources to pay referees more money. That amount can go as low as $75 per assignment if we’re talking about sports on the junior varsity, freshman, and middle school level. As the rate also depends on the age group, center referees have been known to make as little as $40 – $60.
Private schools and well-funded youth sports leagues may be able to pay more. However, with sports being seasonal and people needing more stable means of income, being a referee doesn’t seem to the wisest career path.
- Verbal and Physical Abuse
Even youth sports has its fair share of overzealous fans who yell inappropriate things at the referees and umpires. They call the officials all sorts of names when they don’t agree with the calls. The verbal abuse doesn’t end when the game does. Some people yell things at the refs in the parking lot. Some game officials have even reported being followed home. And if insults weren’t bad enough, there have been reports of game officials who have had things thrown at them or were physically assaulted by disgruntled fans.
The reality of referee emotional and physical beating is so disturbing that in the UK, a national helpline has been launched to support refs who suffer from abuse during matches. And in the US, The Washington Post reports that the cause of the referee shortage is the verbal abuse from both parents and coaches.
Many officials eventually quit, saying the emotional strain and fear for their safety is not worth it. And when you combine lousy pay to the likelihood of being berated and emotionally abused each time you perform your job, it’s not surprising why youth sports is suffering from a shortage of referees.