How the NFL Is Affecting the Way Our Children Play Sports

This is our first gust post on Charlie the Cavalier from a guy!  John O'Connor brings us our post this week.  As a cheerleader for many years I know many sports can be dangerous.  One of the cheerleaders even got a concussion on time so I know they are real and scary!  Hopefully you can benefit from these tips! 

While organized sports can be enjoyable for the young athlete, contact sports like football or lacrosse puts an athlete at risk for developing certain injuries.  Although playing contact sports provides great life experiences for youth, they can also expose them to many common sports related injuries.  As parents we should take time to learn about these potential risks in order to best protect our kids from sports related injuries. 

The NFL has been at the forefront of the safety discussion and has even changed some of its rules to promote safety among players.  Concussions and ligament tears are commonplace for many athletes who play the sport.  The “big hits” that come with a physical game such as football are often times the cause of these injuries.  In most cases the defenseless players in these big hits are often the player who is taking the brunt of the injury.  For this reason the NFL has eliminated hits on defenseless players such as quarterbacks who are attempting a pass, kickers who are in the midst of kicking and receivers who are making a catch.  Other rule changes prohibit players from using their facemask or helmet to hit an opposing player.  These rule changes seem very simple, but they have helped tremendously in making the game of football safer for all who are involved. 

These rule changes have not just affected the professional athletes who make up the NFL but have filtered down into the college and recreational sports that our kids play.  The NFL has expanded its role in advocating safety for younger athletes by launching the NFL Evolution.  The campaign is designed to educate people on the dangers of participating in football and other contact sports.  They have been working to educate parents on these dangers through informational videos, articles and stories while also trying to spread awareness around these issues. 

A few common injuries that may result from contact sports are concussions, ligament tears and heat related injuries.  In learning more about these common injuries, parents can reduce the risk of their child possibly becoming injured.


Concussions are a minor injury that if not taken seriously can become very dangerous.  Concussions often occur when an opposing player hits a player forcibly in the head.  These hits often leave the player stunned and confused.  Sometimes the player may feel well enough to walk off the field and will even ask to return to the game.  If a concussion is suspected it is better to keep the player out of the game and have them get checked out by athletic trainers and a primary care doctor before returning to sports.  Some common symptoms that a concussion could lead to are confusion, headache and nausea.  Memory loss and hearing loss are additional risks young athletes may face.  In the case of severe hearing loss, the use of a hearing aid may be issued to try and help increase hearing levels,  

There are several things a parent can do to eliminate risks of a concussion:

-Make sure that their child is equipped with all necessary gear
-Make sure the equipment fits properly, especially helmets
-Make sure children are trained properly on the ways to tackle or hit in sports. 
-Educate children on the dangers of concussions
-Make sure an athlete does not return back to practice or games until they are fully healed

Ligament Tears

Ligament tears are another injury that is very common in competitive sports.  Since the ACL is crucial in providing stability and balance for athletes while cutting, landing or jumping, although possible it is very hard to compete without an ACL. A torn ACL won’t be able to provide the right level of support for the knee and could cause shifting and rotating as the person jumps or runs.  An ACL tear can happen to anyone, even the strongest and fittest athletes out there commonly tear their ACL.  Some common ways to help prevent an ACL tear are:

-Always warm up; make sure your body is warm and ready to go before hopping into any type of activity
-Always stretch
-Participate in speed, agility and balance exercises
-If old enough, and cleared by a doctor, your child can participate in strength and conditioning programs, focusing on the lower body and core. 

Heat Related Issues

Heat related injuries during summer months are extremely common among young athletes.  Minor injuries like sunburn and more serious injuries like heat stroke are all potential dangers.  Most of the injuries can be prevented.  Parents must make sure that their children:

 -Are properly hydrated at all times during competition
 -Are properly hydrating throughout the day leading up to a sporting event or practice
 -Wear light clothing
 -Use sunscreen

All children can enjoy playing contact sports.  Parents have to be vigilant in protecting their children from injuries by taking the necessary safety precautions. 

Hi my name is John O'Connor, I am a father, outdoorsman, sports enthusiast and passionate about living a healthy lifestyle.  Check out my new blog at!

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