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Apart from baseball, football is the most played sports in the United States making it common among the males. In the United States, 30 million people participate in the sport. A considerable percentage of the youths within the age bracket of 5-14 years are already participating in the American Football (Delaney et al 234-237). The sport involves fast movements that are intense in the some context. Like rugby, there is blocking of the opponents and breaking the defense.
There are other tackles that are only specific to the sport. Football related injuries are sustained in the long run, and the adverse effects remain elusive. The intense activity in the sport lead to 1.2 million people suffering from head, hip, bone fractures and dislocating joints. Among those injuries, of prime concern is the head injuries. Acceleration of the players lead to the increased intensity of the head injuries and thus the seriousness.
Though uncommon, head injuries may result to serious cases of concussions. There has been a move to increase head injury prevention methods with the NFL taking it as the topmost agenda. There are bouts of fear that failure to act quickly will lead to business loss due to the never-ending chains of lawsuits (Delaney et al 234-237). The past data on the transgressions indicate that there are 4500 retired players who have filed lawsuits to the league for not doing enough to prevent head injuries. Limiting the number of these concussions should remain the main priority for the league.
Head injuries present a major problem since they remain asymptomatic. Of the major injuries associated with the sport, 5 % accounts for concussions with 40% accounting for strains and sprains. In many cases head injuries are present as a myriad of symptoms such as confusion, dizziness, slurred speech and emotional disturbances. Studies indicate a strong link of head injuries to neurological problems. The game demand the use of hips, knees and the back, therefore, head injuries receive little attention.
Progress in the prevention of injuries, as well as sustainable solution, should aim at improving the design of the safety guards such as the helmets, hip guard, knee pads and the mouth guards. Other prevention techniques should focus on other ways that would help in educating the player and research based policies. Such policies will ensure the change of the game rules especially those that heightens the progression towards head injuries. This paper explains in detail about head injuries and the policy based approaches that are used in the intervention.
Head injuries are common in American football and account 22% of all injuries. Concussions form a significant percentage of these injuries. Concussion are described as the states of neural dysfunctions that result from head trauma. In the concussive states there are possibilities of headache, dementia, consciousness loss, nausea and lack of coordination. Most of the football players are students in major colleges.
Studies have shown a decline in cognitive functioning among the players. For instance, a study that was carried out in Erasmus University, in the Netherlands showed that there are poor tests result from the evaluation based on their attention levels and the visual perception. Most injuries in sports contribute to fatalities, however, head related injuries can be a major cause of death among the football players.
Traumatic Brain Injury is the most severe head related injury. A simple definition of a medical condition refers to a blow to the head. TBI arises in the instances when the head suddenly hits an object or when same object pierces the skull to affect the brain tissue. The symptoms of TBI vary from mild, moderate to severe depending on the extent and the nature of the damage. In the mild cases of the injury, there is an altered state of consciousness while the most severe case contributes to coma, unconsciousness or even death. A concussion can be used as an indicator to the extent of brain damage among the football players (Benson et al 321-326).
A retrospect carried out by Cleveland Clinic reveals a twisting trend of truth where football players may experience long-term changes in their brain even if they have never been diagnosed with concussions. The study involved use of brain scans and blood tests where in the blood the researchers were interested with the S100B. S100B is a protein in the body that is associated with regulatory functions of nerve growth.
In diseases such as Alzheimer’s, epilepsy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and certain cancers in the body the protein plays a significant role. Increased hits to the head lead to the release of S100B protein in the blood and thus, the elevated levels. Morbidity and the mortality levels associated with the head injuries have received little attention compared to other related sports injuries (Benson et al 321-326). Repeated concussion for an individual previously diagnosed with the condition can lead to serious consequences.
Diagnosis of head injuries
In the recent past, diagnosing head injuries has started to receive huge attention among the football bodies (Rowson et al 147-151). The high prevalence rate of head injuries is necessitating early diagnosis and detection. Diagnosing of head injury has received huge attention due to the immense of research showing the increasing prevalence of head related injuries. Despite the huge attention in the diagnostic measures, Concussions are difficult to diagnose due to the costly brain scans and furthermore they rely on the symptoms of the player.
The sporting culture brings huge discouragement among the players who fear watching from the sidelines, and yet they desire to participate in the game. The dangers and the long-lasting effect of head injuries are prompting doctors, and the player alike to take the dangers posed seriously. There are studies showing that football players have huge changes in the protective matter of the brain even though they have never been diagnosed with head concussions (Rowson et al 147-151).
Other objective tests could be carried out, for instance, blood tests that are inexpensive. The benefits of this test is that they are inexpensive and can be carried out in the stadiums thus eliminating the need of a player from going to the hospital. The persons at risk of head concussion include the national league players, player who form the collegiate athletic association and the young high school players.
Engineering innovations have been proposed as a way of controlling the increasing rates of head concussion. There are two designs that are in use, and they include: VSR4 and Revolution helmet. When the two are compared there is 53.9% of reduction of concussion risks from Revolution Helmet when in comparison to the VSR4 helmet. The purpose of helmets is to modulate energy transfer during impacts. There are other recommended interventions associated with head injuries. They entail medical examination and provision of medical history to all participants.
Personnel who are associated with training should ensure that there is proper physical conditioning during the training periods (Cantu et al 846-848). Presence of the physician is necessary during both training and the game. Physical measures should be enhanced in consistent with the weather. Athletes who show positive symptoms should have recommended medical examination and treatment. The team should be prepared in the case of catastrophic head injuries with parents and athletes receiving basic training on the associated symptoms and signs.
Diagnosing of head injuries and the associated intervention measures find the derivation from the seriousness of the situation that can lead to damage to the brain and the central nervous system. Some of these injuries may contribute to incomplete recovery from the conditions. In obtaining a measure to the rising trend of head concussions, there are state laws and other action policies meant at decreasing the rising cases.
A good example of this law is Zackery Lystedt passed in 2009. Proposed action plans include limiting contact during training, as well as playing. Rule changes can also happen during the game that limit use of certain techniques. Sports equipment should be in good nature before and after use.
There are associated impediments to the control of head concussion. Some of these impediments entail mild symptoms of concussive states that normally go undetected. Some of the symptoms are experienced in relapses especially in an on-and-off manner (Cantu et al 846-848). This makes it difficult to diagnose and recommends the best medication available. The persistence nature of the problem may be on the decline thus, complicating the chosen medication and control. The bodies that are involved in the control of Head concussion and other head injuries include the American College of Sports Medicine, National Football League (NFL), National Collegiate Athletic Association and Centers for Disease Control that helps in tool kit provision.
Benson BW, Mcintosh AS, Maddocks D, Herring SA, Dvorak J. What are the most effective risk-reduction strategies in sport concussion?. Br Journal of Sports Medicine. 2013 Apr;47(5):321-6
Cantu, RC, Mueller, FO. Brain injury-related fatalities in America football,1945-1999. Journal Of Naurosurgery.2003 Apr;52(4):846-52
Delaney S, Lacroix V, Gagne C, Antonious J. Concussions among University Football and Soccer Players: A Pilot Study. Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine. 2001;11 (4):234-240.
Rowson s, Duma SM, Greenwald RM, Beckwit JG et al. Can helmet design reduce the risk of concussion in football. Journal of Naurosurgeon. 2014 Jan 31.
The roaring twenties were the name given to the decade. 1920s witnessed many developments that made it stand out among the other decades of the century. In this decade, many spheres of the human life evolved. The possible cause for the rapid changes witnessed in the decade was the moment of world peace that was prevailing at that time. The other angel of looking at the success of the decade was from the massive economic developments that were evident. The decade followed a decade of war. The people that had fought in the wars had earned enough money to enable them start their businesses (Davies, 2007). The government spending in the employment of the young soldier and manufacture of weapons had spurred the economic development. The people were willing to spend, and they now had the time and peace. The two factors could be the main reason behind the developments witnessed in the decade.
The ability of the citizenry to spend in other activities of leisure was the aspect of the people that caught the promoters' attention. The promoters sought any business that they would sponsor. All the businesses were taken, and anybody could establish a company and build it to the level of success by the definition of success at the time. The promoters had to look for a new production approach, which would be able to attract the people and maintain a regular flow of the clientele (Davies, 2007).
The promoters of the time sought to develop the sports. Prior to the bold move of the promoters to put their financial might behind sports, the general view of the people towards sport was that they were an amateur affair (Davies, 2007). The sports were not played at a competitive level, but they were played with the view of self-entertainment.
In fact, the people were always playing the sports for reasons that would look unconventional to the modern people. However, the entrance of promoters in the sports was a significant moment of change in the mode of operation. The promoters of the roaring twenties were the main driving forces behind the conversion of the sporting activities from small amateur affairs into large competitive sporting. The attainment of the change in the attitude to sporting only needed the direction of the finances by the promoters to the event and people would come and form staunch followers of the game.
Some of the sports that gained popularity in the time were because of the constant exposure that they received in the media. The media had established itself such that the people were exposed to information. The selection of the mass media as the channel that the promoters used to advance their support for a certain sporting event was a major determinant of the success of the sporting promotion of the 20s. Many people started flocking to the playing fields seeking to be part of the new sporting fad (Davies, 2007).
The people were able to come out since they could afford the fees. The popularity gained in sporting led to the development of enough finances such that the participators witnessed a steady rise in salaries. The sportsmen started gaining popularity and people started taking the idea of sporting seriously. In the same decade, the best sportsmen of all time were created. In the current times, ninety years after the roaring twenties there are conscious efforts to break records or emulate the sportsmen and women of 1920's.
Davies, R. O. (2007). Sports in american life. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub.
Participating in sports and games enhances the wellness of all aspects of the human body—physical, psychological and social. Numerous research books have expounded on the importance of remaining active with empirical evidence, and health enthusiasts agree that one of the simplest ways to live a healthier and longer life is to stay active. In the United States, youth sports play a much bigger role than keeping participants healthy – scholarships, social integration, and development of values such as teamwork are some of the benefits associated with youth sports programs. However, it is not all rosy; critics are questioning whether some sports programs have lost track of the overall objectives for which they were designed. On the whole, they argue that “youth sports often create and accentuate ethnic segregation and social class division in communities.”
Keywords: Youth Sports, Social Class Divisions, Ethnic/Racial Segregation
In the United States, youth sports are a popular choice, and whether it is just about having fun shooting hoops or participating in a youth football tournament, there are a plethora of opportunities for young people to stay active and have fun. Some of the most popular sports are soccer, basketball, baseball, football and track, and field events. Research shows that 60 percent of children engage in different activities inside and outside of school (What are the 5 most popular youth sports?, 2017). Sports involvement from the recreational to the competitive levels have numerous benefits for children and adolescents regardless of the skill level. Participating in sports help in the development of critical life skills like social skills, improved academic performance, character development, setting and achieving objectives, commitment to responsibilities and high self-esteem (Arthur-Banning, 2018). In fact, the seriousness with which this issue is treated is so great that civil rights legislation has seen to it that children and youths with disabilities are not left out in youth sports programs and that they should be provided with the same facilities for sports and recreational involvement as their peers who are not disabled (Arthur-Banning, 2018).
Problems of Youth Sports in the U.S.
Be that as it may, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that not everything is positive when it comes to youth sports programs. Critics contend that to some extent these programs have contributed to ethnic segregation and social class divisions within American communities. Supporting evidence comes from the works of Strandbu et al. (2017) who point out that there are significant disparities in the representation of minority groups versus majority groups in popular sports. For instance, their study revealed that girls from minority groups were less involved in sports programs as compared to girls from the dominant groups. For boys, the findings were less straightforward—male children from minority groups had equal or sometimes higher participation rates in these programs especially in ethnic-based clubs, sports clubs, and unorganized exercises.
In such programs, racism was especially noted to affect the participation of black male boys while girls were mostly hampered by culture and religion (Massao & Fasting, 2014; Benn, Pfister, & Jawad, 2011). The possible explanations for the majority-minority gap as projected by Strandbu et al. (2015) are (a) culture, (b) religion, (c) social class and economic resources, and (d) racism and discrimination. In a separate study, other issues that were established to influence the participation of the youth in sports include adolescent obesity. The prevalence rates for adolescent obesity were significantly higher among Hispanic and non-Hispanic adolescents (body mass index ≥ 95%) compared to non-Hispanic white youth (Turner et al., 2015). A review of 108 different studies found that children across all races had almost equal participation rates but that once they reached puberty non-Hispanic whites would be more active compared to ethnic minority children. Similar to findings by Strandbu et al., (2017), Turner et al., (2015) also concur that adolescents from low-income families were also less likely to stick to physical activities and sports participation.
Perhaps the realization that sports has turned into a lucrative venture compounds the problems that these youth programs face. Parents have refused to let these programs belong to the children, and the recent story of Audrey Dimitrew that was published in the Washington Post testifies to this assertion. In Philadelphia, a dad sued a track team for $40 million getting his son off the first team, and in Dallas, another father sued a lacrosse camp on claims of racketeering. These are just a tip of the problems facing youth sports today. In all these examples, it is apparent that parents are piling the pressure on their children to get noticed by college coaches (O'Sullivan, 2015).
Thus the assertions of critics of youth sports programs would seem to hold some substantial weight going by the findings of these research studies. Having established that indeed, sports youth programs can at times have unintended negative consequences, the work now commences on evaluating and highlighting measures that can be undertaken to ensure that these adverse effects do not continue to manifest themselves in such as an excellent platform for enhancing the psychological, physiological and social developmental aspects of the youth. To do this, this paper evaluates the stated causes that are likely to create class divisions and ethnic segregation in youth sports.
Reducing Ethnic Segregation and Class Divisions in Youth Sports
The concept of organized youth sports first emerged during the early 20th century and was primarily focused on “masculinizing” male children (Coakley, 2016). In the U.S., these programs emphasized teaching children to develop competitive spirit as a fundamental requirement for professional success in the years to come. Even though these earlier models ignored female children, the underlying motive should not be forgotten. These programs were designed to make men out of boys and prepare them for the future. Today, the only alterations that should be made on these former models are the ones that increase inclusivity and gender recognition. It is sufficient that the pre-21st-century models sought to masculinize male children, but in an era where gender discrimination is illegal, the motive to empower both boys and girls would be a fitting agenda for such youth programs.
The privatization of youth programs is a phenomenon that has also been widely blamed for entrenching negative impacts. Privatization came about as funding for public programs gradually declined over the years due to tax cuts and sponsoring organizations walking away. These private youth programs were mostly established in the middle- and upper-middle income areas naturally because these areas housed people who had enough disposable incomes to pay for the services. However, the downside of this was that it perpetuated ethnic and economic inequalities in society (Coakley, 2016). Certain sports and games soon came to be associated with affluent regions in the country. Even today, horse riding, tennis/squash, sailing, polo, skiing, and golf (to mention a few) are widely regarded as elite sports because they are predominantly played by the rich in society (Cosmell, 2010). Since private sports programs were not accountable in the same way as public sports programs, values such as gender inclusivity did not form their core building blocks. This begs the question as to whether restructuring private youth programs would make them deliver the services for which they were established without the negative consequences. For instance, while it might be impractical to run a private youth sports program in a low-income area, adhering to gender inclusivity should not be a difficult task to manage. This can be achieved by enacting legislation that requires private programs to allocate a certain quota of their membership to female children.
Furthermore, as sports started becoming lucrative, most of these private youth programs as well as some commercial youth programs concentrated on instilling the “performance ethic” in children and young adults. The message passed to children was that they could reap material rewards by committing themselves to sports. Since such programs were already located in the middle- and upper-middle-class neighborhoods, it widened the socioeconomic gap between the rich and the poor (Coakley, 2016). On the part of the children, they were called upon to exert themselves, and “work” longer hours. As a result, these children became laborers in programs that were not regulated by the Child Labor laws – a matter that raised ethical questions regarding child-adult relationships. The fact that children and young adults were taught to start viewing sports as a mechanism to go ahead of others in life meant that it lost its original objectives of instilling values that emphasized bringing the society together instead of pulling it apart. This kind of mentality did not encourage teamwork; it discouraged it. It taught the youth the jungle rule that “eat or be eaten.” How do we change this? This can be changed by bringing on board new values, spirits, and mindsets—that sports should not be a mechanism to segregate but to integrate; to help the youth value their peers instead of devaluing them; and that the youth can go farther when working together than when they work individually.
But inasmuch as we would like to see these youth sports programs instill new values in our children, we cannot forget that ultimately, it is the mindset of the coaches in these programs that has to change. The thing is this; coaches and trainers are also the products of a society that values material things over more essential values such as teamwork, embracing diversity, and honesty and etcetera. Some of the recommendations that have been made in this regard include (a) ensuring that coaches make these programs safe and accessible to many youths as possible. This means being sensitive to gender patterns and social class, (b) providing guidance without being over-controlling, and (c) treating sports as an avenue for teaching skills on how to face challenges and develop competence (Coakley, 2016). Moreover, the Coaching Education Programs should offer information to coaches on how to deal with children responsibly and safely as well as how to organize practices and teaching skills. This means avoiding the “techno-science” approach to control the children they are teaching.
Nonetheless, at the core of this issue—that youth sports programs accentuate ethnic segregation and social class divisions—is an overwhelming need to implement strategies to improve inter-ethnic as well as inter-class relations in youth organizations and schools. According to a study commissioned by the Carnegie Corporation, understanding the sources of discrimination and prejudice (often rooted in social and historical contexts) and how they are shaped by traditional practices and structures is the key towards finding ways to removing ethnic disparities (Strategies for Reducing Racial and Ethnic Prejudice, 2018). The first principle put forth by Carnegie is based on understanding how power differences create intergroup tensions. The second principle for developing a strategy is that the protocol put in place must influence the behavior of the individual and motivate him/her also to change others. in this case, the strategy should seek to positively affect the coaches who in turn will impact their students.
Accordingly, when a strategy does not include lessons on how to act based on the newly acquired knowledge and awareness, then they are likely to fail in creating positive change in relationships. More often, people are noted not to be as competent as they should be when interacting with people from a different cultural background and sometimes this leads to well-intended intentions being misinterpreted hence leading to more misunderstandings (Strategies for Reducing Racial and Ethnic Prejudice, 2018). Similarly, it is noteworthy that discrimination and prejudice are social influences and therefore, to change our behavior and perspective, it is necessary that we enlist others to help us. Furthermore, changing the worldview of those who have been on the receiving end of discrimination and prejudice might mean that we create an atmosphere of tolerance and goodwill principally by striving to change the mindset, behavior, and words of those who reflect ethnic and racial prejudice.
The third Carnegie principle focuses on dealing with behavior and dispositions of all the groups involved. This is because most race relations programs tend to focus on knowledge and awareness about, and behavior toward, minority groups. Sometimes these programs narrow down on the attitudes and treatment of a single ethnic or racial group. This is a wrong approach because, in the end, it does little to avoid stereotyping and oversimplification. However, by embracing racial diversity, we provide the opportunities to learn and compare and in the process raise our awareness on the realities and the sophistication of the lessons being taught (Strategies for Reducing Racial and Ethnic Prejudice, 2018).
The spirit and letter that guided the formation of youth sports programs are still evidently present in some of these programs—to let children and the youth have fun as they develop life skills that will serve them in their future endeavors. However, the society has changed a lot since then, and the impact of these changed have reverberated well into sports programs that were meant to serve the youth. Today, youth sports programs have become money-minting platforms, and popularity contests, and lastly, an avenue for perpetuating social class divisions as well as ethnic and racial segregation. But these remain the isolated cases rather than the norm; for sports continues to be one of the most unifying and inclusivity promoting factors in modern society. Nevertheless, there is a need to apply more effort to ensure that the negative aspects of sports programs do not proliferate and destroy the gains that have been made as well as hinder the achievement of new objectives. In this regard, this paper has highlighted a raft of measures that can be taken to eliminate the causes of negative aspects bedeviling youth sports programs in the United States.
Arthur-Banning, S. G. (2018). Youth Sports in America: The most important issues in youth sports today. Santa Barbara, CA. Denver, CO: ABC-CLIO.
Benn, T., Pfister, G., & Jawad, H. (2011). Muslim Women and Sport. New York: Routledge.
Coakley, J. (2016). Sports in Society: Issues and Controversies. In 12 (Ed.), Sports and Society (pp. 1 – 672). New York: McGraw-Hill Education.
Cosmell, H. (2010, July 21). 9 SPORTS FOR RICH PEOPLE. Retrieved September 24, 2018, from Total Pro Sports: https://www.totalprosports.com/2010/11/09/9-sports-for-rich-people/
Massao, P., & Fasting, K. (2014). Mapping Race, Class, and Gender: Experiences from Black Norwegian Athletes. European Journal for Sport and Society, 11(4), 331 – 352.
O'Sullivan, J. (2015, April 3). The 4 Biggest Problems in Youth Sports Today. Retrieved September 24, 2018, from Changing the Game Project: https://changingthegameproject.com/4-the-biggest-problems-in-youth-sport...
Strandbu, Å., Bakken, A., & Sletten, M. A. (2017). Exploring the minority-majority gap in sports participation: different patterns for boys and girls? Sports in Society, 2 - 20. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/17430437.2017.1389056
Strategies for Reducing Racial and Ethnic Prejudice: Essential Principles. (2018). Retrieved September 24, 2018, from Teaching Tolerance: https://www.tolerance.org/professional-development/strategies-for-reduci...
Turner, R. W., Perrin, E. M., Coyne-Beasely, T., Peterson, C. J., & Skinner, A. C. (2015). Reported Sports Participation, Race, Sex, Ethnicity, and Obesity in US Adolescents From NHANES Physical Activity. Global Pediatric Health, 2. doi:10.1177/2333794X15577944
What are the 5 most popular youth sports? (2017, December 9). Retrieved September 24, 2018, from UK Elite: https://ukelite.com/2017/12/09/5-popular-youth-sports/
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