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Yet Another Injury Forces Us to Question Youth Sports

By Madeline Holler |

eric legrand injury, rutgers player paralyzed

Is football just too dangerous?

Rutgers defensive tackle, Eric LeGrand, has been paralyzed from the neck down after injuries sustained during a football game over the weekend. TJ Lavin, BMX biker and host of MTVs Challenge, was hospitalized and in a medically induced coma after serious injuries to his face and brain during a competition last week.

Football, BMX — and other sports like cheerleading, skateboarding, baseball and softball — have high risk of injury for its players. When those players are still-developing young children, we have to ask — if these sports can be life-threatening to grown men, are they simply too dangerous for kids.

Of course, we should distinguish between life-threateningly dangerous and ones that cause frequent muscle strains. This list of the seven most dangerous youth sports lists basketball as the most dangerous. Sure, kids shouldn’t be routinely busting up their knees and pulling their achilles tendon.

But that sports that are of real concern are ones leaving its players at risk for brain trauma and also spinal injuries. Sports like football and also cheerleading, which is regarded as the most dangerous of girls’ sports.

So again, I ask, are some sports simply too dangerous for kids?

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About Madeline Holler


Madeline Holler

Madeline Holler is a writer, journalist, and blogger. She has written for Babble since the site launched in 2006. Her writing has appeared in various other publications both online and in print, including Salon and True/Slant (now Forbes). A native of the Midwest, Madeline lives, writes, and parents in Southern California, where she's raising two daughters and a son. Read bio and latest posts → Read Madeline's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “Yet Another Injury Forces Us to Question Youth Sports

  1. pqbon says:

    You are comparing two athletes at the top of the field with youth sports! Kids learning BMX and football are not prone to this kind of sever injury.

  2. Kate says:

    Kids are absolutely at risk — the number of HS football players who are paralyzed each year is in the high two digits. I used to think my mother-in-law was overprotective when I heard she wouldn’t allow her son to pay football, but now I think she was just ahead of her time.

    I’d let my kids play most all sports, but not football, nor any of the X-game stuff. No, you can’t eliminate all risk from your child’s life, but you can be cautious and eliminate some of the most likely and devastating dangers.

  3. JBoogie says:

    It’s awful what happened to LeGrand, and I would be devastated if that was my son. But have you ever, ever, ever, heard of an athlete that got hurt, even if it was devastating, and say they regret playing their sport? Why would you keep your kid from doing something that fires them up, motivates them to succeed, gives them a goal, and gives them a passion that they might not ever have for anything else? Watch your little boy sack the quarterback one time and see the look on his face, and this argument disappears. If your kid isn’t that into it, then yeah, get him out, because he’s gonna get hurt if he’s not giving it his all. But sports, especially team sports, give kids something nothing else in the world can. And I guess I kind of have to eat my words here, but…cheerleading? Really? Not a sport. And yeah, yeah, I know, I know, it’s hard and you break a sweat and like, omg, your coach made you run a mile because your ribbon doesn’t match the panties hanging out of your shorts. But really? Throwing a child in a skirt a mile in the air and hoping that two of her airhead friends who have fake curls and eyelashes glued to their heads are going to catch her? Not sporty. Stupid.

  4. Melissa Bateman says:

    Is competitive gymnastics not a sport? Well, throw in a team of gymnasts trying to build pyramids and yes, basket tosses, and you have one of the physically grueling sports on the planet. Clearly you haven’t tuned into competitive cheerleader since say the 1980s! It is 2010 and cheerleading certainly is a sport, unless you live under a rock. By the way, cheerleading was started as a male sport illustrating tumbling capabilities. Girls AND boys have taken tumbling into a whole new arena–check out this video–yes, more guys than girls: Not a sport–yea, right.Try one of these moves and tell me it isn’t a sport.

  5. jrmiss86 says:

    The benefits of kids being in sports far outweighs the risks. My son has only one kidney, but I still plan on allowing him to play in any sport he wants to. We already have the support and permission from all of his many doctors. In reality, especially with younger kids, the risk of being seriously hurt is very, very low. And sometimes yes, it is worth the risk involved. There is risk involved in driving, probably more of a risk then in playing sports, but most people are willing to take the risk to get to their destination faster. The benefits of being in sports are much higher than the benefits of driving, so yes I think the risk is worthwhile.

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