George Hale talks about Soccer Safety

Updated 5 months ago

WATCHING THE WORLD CUP GOT GEORGE HALE THINKING ABOUT SOMETHING THAT’S MISSING FROM THE SPORT AND HE THINKS IT’S A DANGEROUS OMISSION….

“IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE WORLD CUP, WITH ITS HUGE TELEVISION AUDIENCE, THE SUBJECT OF INJURIES HAS LINGERED.

I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT THE “FLOPPING” MANY OF THE PLAYERS DO BUT THE SPECTER OF CONCUSSIONS.

IT’S A SUBJECT EVERY SPORT IS HAVING TO DEAL WITH AND SOMETHING THAT PARENTS SHOULD BE PAYING CLOSE ATTENTION TO.

VIEWERS TO THE CUP FINAL WERE SHOCKED TO SEE A GERMAN PLAYER HIT IN THE HEAD AND OBVIOUSLY BADLY SHAKEN ONLY TO RETURN TO THE GAME.

FIFTEEN MINUTES LATER HE WAS REMOVED FROM PLAY OBVIOUSLY ON DREAM STREET.

NOT A PRETTY SCENE IN ANY SPORT, WHICH BRINGS ME TO MY POINT.

SUMMER IS IN FULL SWING AND IT WON’T BE LONG BEFORE FOOTBALL FIELDS AND SOCCER VENUES ARE PACKED WITH YOUNG PLAYERS COMPETING AT VARIOUS LEVELS OF PLAY.

WE WOULD’T THINK OF PUTTING FOOTBALL PLAYERS ON THE FIELD WITHOUT HELMETS BUT ROUTINELY SOCCER PLAYERS COMPETE WITH NO PROTECTION.

SOCCER IS A GAME THAT IS PLAYED AT HIGH SPEEDS, WITHOUT PADS AND CONTACT IS OFTEN THE NORM.

HANDS CAN’T BE USED SO MOST PLAYERS WILL “HEAD THE BALL” A NUMBER OF TIMES DURING THE CONTEST.

GOAL KEEPERS CAN BE PARTICULARLY VULNERABLE WITH ACTION IN FRONT OF THE NET AND THE BALL KICKED AT THE GOALIE IN SHORT RANGE.

LET ME TELL YOU THE STORY OF A PLAYER I KNOW…SHE WAS HIT BY A KICKED BALL AND STRUCK IN THE TEMPLE AREA.

FROM THAT POINT HER LIFE CHANGED.

A TOP QUALITY STUDENT SHE NOW HAS SHORT TERM MEMORY PROBLEMS AND HAS TO HAVE HELP TO COMPLETE HER COLLEGE COURSES.

HER LIFE WAS ALTERED BY ONE SINGLE PLAY.

SHE WAS NOT WEARING ANY TYPE OF PROTECTIVE HEAD GEAR.

THERE ARE ABOUT 200,000 CHILDREN IN THIS COUNTRY TREATED FOR SOCCER INJURIES EACH YEAR AND MANY ARE CONCUSSIONS CAUSED BY HEADS COLLIDING…IN SOME CASES “HEADING” THE BALL REPEATEDLY.

SO WHY ARE WE PUTTING SO MANY YOUNGSTERS AT RISK WHEN THERE ARE SOLUTIONS OR AT LEAST PROTECTIONS AVAILABLE?

THERE IS PLENTY OF EVIDENCE THAT YOUNG ATHLETES ARE AT A HIGHER RISK FOR CONCUSSIONS THAN OLDER PLAYERS PLAYING ANY SPORT.

WHEN TESTED, INJURED HIGH SCHOOL SOCCER PLAYERS TESTED WORSE ON VERBAL, VISUAL AND MEMORY POST-CONCUSSION ASSESSMENTS THAN COLLEGE PLAYERS.

RECOVERY WAS AT A MUCH SLOWER RATE.

FEMALE PARTICIPANTS WERE AT EVEN HIGHER RISK.

FIFA, THE INTERNATIONAL GOVERNING BODY OF SOCCER, HAS AT LEAST BEGUN TO LOOK AT THE PROBLEM.

BUT IT SEEMS TO ME RULES CHANGES SUCH AS ELBOWING IS NOT THE ANSWER.

WHILE SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE IS NOT SOLID, COMMON SENSE SEEMS TO INDICATE THAT SOME FORM OF HEAD PROTECTION GEAR SHOULD BE REQUIRED IN ALL YOUTH AND HIGH SCHOOL GAMES.

IN A BRITISH SURVEY THE CONCUSSION RATE AMONG PLAYERS 12-17 DROPPED DRAMATICALLY WHEN COMPARING PLAYERS WEARING HEADGEAR T THOSE WHO DIDN’T.

WHILE THE ART OF “HEADING THE BALL” MAY NOT CAUSE A CONCUSSION IT DOES LEAD TO A CONCUSSION LIKE SYMPTOM WHEN DONE REPEATEDLY.

BY THE VERY NATURE OF SPORTS, WITH COMPETATIVE BODIES IN MOTION, SOME INJURIES ARE BOUND TO HAPPEN.

WE REQUIRE BASEBALL PLAYERS TO WEAR HELMETS.

HOCKEY PLAYERS HAVE MASKS AND HELMETS.

FOOTBALL PLAYERS WEAR PADS AND HELMETS.

YOUNG ATHLETES’ BRAINS ARE NOT NEARLY FULLY DEVELOPED WHEN THEY ARE COMPETING IN GAMES.

IT SEEMS STRANGE TO ME TO REQUIRE SHIN GEAR ON SOCCER PLAYERS BUT NOTHING TO PROTECT THEIR BRAINS FROM DAMAGE.

DOCTORS CAN FIX A SCRAPED OR BROKEN LEG A LOT FASTER THAN A DAMAGED BRAIN.

THAT TAKES A LOT LONGER.

THIS IS GEORGE HALE WITH MY PERSPECTIVE ON SPORTS.”


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