Looking at the numbers, it’s understandable why parents might fear for their children’s safety when it comes to playing youth sports.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sports-related injuries are the leading cause of emergency room visits for kids 12 to 17 years old. Recreational activities result in 3.2 million visits annually for 5 to 14-year-olds.
Despite statistics like those, there is still a belief among parents that the benefits of youth sports outweigh the injury risk. A recent study by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association found just that when surveying parents about their children’s safety in youth sports.
NATA surveyed more than 1,000 parents of children ages 17 and under, and 60 percent of those parents said their children participated in sports.
When asked about the benefits of sports, 60 percent of parents responded that sports were great for physical fitness and health along with improving life skills.
That’s something Tory Lindley, the president of NATA, believes as someone who both works in youth sports and is also a parent of young athletes.
“Athletes are more apt to participate in middle and high school and develop life skills that are important,” Tory Lindley, the president of NATA, told theSeason in a recent interview. “They can’t get those from playing a video game or sitting on a couch. I think parents believe in choosing a sport over not choosing a sport.”
Looking at those injury numbers, however, parents have some cause for concern. Fifty-two percent of parents surveyed said they have or would prevent their child from playing a sport due to the risk of injury.
“Certainly parents are concerned about fractures, sprains, strains and concussions,” Lindley said. “It’s that general fear and risk of what could happen.”
The fear of injury hasn’t stopped players from getting on the field. In the most recent National Federation of High School Associations study on participation, the number of high school athletes increased for the 29th consecutive year.
“Parents understand and recognize that there’s benefit in sport that outweighs the risks,” Lindley said. “It’s the ability for our kids to be socialized and do things such as take on leadership skills.”
While there is still that fear of injury, Lindley and NATA are working to help parents alleviate some of those concerns. One of the biggest surprises Lindley saw was the amount of parents who were unaware of the athletic training services provided in various situations. Only about 25 percent of parents surveyed had thought about asking about the athletic training services provided.
“That surprised me the most,” Lindley said. “It’s surprising parents don’t think about asking and have that blind faith and trust.”
Lindley said it’s important to ask questions about the athletic training services provided. It’s a way for parents to not only feel more informed but also not be as fearful about injuries.
“Be more responsible and take ownership in your athlete’s health and safety,” Lindley said. “Parents can’t assume because they’re handing off their kids to adults that the adults are going to be responsible for the players’ safety.”
From GameChanger and Ryan Williamson
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