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What I learned from the NFL about kids and sports safety

I had the pleasure of traveling to New York city last month for a luncheon at the NFL Headquarters. The topic of discussion was sports safety for children. As the mother of two boys, I knew this would be right up my alley. Not only was excited about spending 24 hours all by myself in the city, I was actually really eager to hear about the importance of spotting concussions and when it is appropriate to stop playing a sport after an injury.

Honestly, I have wanted to write this post ever since that day, but with so much valuable information to share, I worried that I wouldn’t do it justice. The truth is, concussions are a big deal. The more we learn about them, the more our culture will need to adapt and make sure we are protecting our athletes and ultimately, our children. I highlighted a few of my favorite takeaways, but be sure to click through the links in this post because there is a lot of really valuable information that I found really helpful.

Tip 1. – Helmets do not protect people from concussions

How many of you have ever even considered this fact? In my mind, a helmet = safe. But what it really means is a helmet = safer than no helmet. One speaker described the brain as a jar of mayonnaise. If you shake the jar, the mayo will jostle around. If you imagine a jar wearing a helmet, it doesn’t change what is on the inside.

Leave it to the NFL to get through to me with a food analogy. Now we’re talking.

Tip 2. – Don’t skip sports, but know when to take a break

 “When in doubt, sit them out” – Gerard A. Gioia, PhD

Whether you or your children are playing soccer, hockey, football or anything else, it’s important to keep it up! In an increasingly sedentary society we now have to be intentional about making sure we move around each day. It’s important for our overall health and in many cases our mental health! In other words, don’t skip the sports out of fear of injury. Simply learn to play smarter and pay attention.

Of course, none of us wants to be labeled the helicopter parent. At the same time, it’s smart to check out the CDC’s recommendations for spotting concussions and USA Football’s safety checklists for smart athletics. To me, this is no different than having CPR training or a fire safety plan. It’s easier to enjoy the activity and stay calm when you have a bit of knowledge to fall back on if faced with a crisis or injury.

Tip 3. – Know how to spot a concussion

I have had a concussion. It was scary and disorienting. Mine was related to a car accident but I could barely walk for hours. I couldn’t imagine “playing through it” even hours later. Use these tips to spot a concussion and put your foot down if you think your child needs to take a sports break.

Here is a portion of the CDC’s Fact Sheet for Parents. To print the whole PDF, click through to the CDC.

As the mom of two boys who are already active, I really appreciated the focus on striking a balance between healthy activity and safety. Sports are good. We need to be active and give our children an outlet for which to channel their seemingly never-ending energy. At the same time, it’s our job as parents to do what we can to make sure they are safe. Concussions can happen anytime a person has a blow to the head. Knowing how to spot them is crucial.

I am grateful I had the chance to learn more about this issue. And let’s be honest, getting my picture taken with THE Vince Lombardi trophy was pretty awesome!

***photo by Sherry Aikens


Have you ever had a concussion or had to spot one in your child?

Many thanks to the NFL for providing me with the opportunity to travel to NYC and attend this luncheon. All opinions expressed are my own. 

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Jo-Lynne {Musings of a Housewife}

Friday 21st of September 2012

That is such great info. Sounds like a fun time too. Hated to miss it. :-)

Jenn @therebelchick

Thursday 20th of September 2012

I was always worried when my daughter played soccer because my friend got concussions from playing soccer - I had no idea what to look for, and I think that's a pretty common problem to have. Thanks for sharing, I am tweeting this out!!


Wednesday 19th of September 2012

Really useful info. Still don't think I'd be happy about either of my boys playing football...but it is all good to know for other sports! And I appreciate the NFL working on awareness at the K-12 level!

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