All these years of yelling about football and telling stories about my children to the entire internet have finally paid off.
Last week I was invited to the NFL Headquarters in New York City to participate in a Youth Health and Safety meeting.
The crowd was a fascinating mix of doctors, writers, health professionals, youth sports experts and NFL staff.
Here are the things I learned:
1) A concussion is a brain injury that affects how your brain works.
2) Your brain in the consistency of mayonnaise.
3) Helmets can prevent skull injuries, not brain injuries.
4) While your brain is still healing from a concussion you are far more likely to sustain another concussion.
5) There is an organization called USA Football that provides free educational resources to coaches, parents and young players.
Here are the things I think all coaches and parents of kids involved in youth sports should know:
1) When in doubt, sit ‘em out. If you even suspect that a player might have a concussion, get them out of the game.
2) The common symptoms of concussions can include: headache, nausea, confusion, irritability, difficulty remembering things, vomiting, light or noise sensitivity, dizziness, double vision, sleep problems, difficulty paying attention.
3) You might not notice any signs of a concussion for days. As parents we need to be hyper-vigilant to changes in our kids’ behavior, specially after a big hit in any sport or even a fall.
4) We have to change the culture. Let your kids know that if they are hurt they need to speak up. Admitting that you are injured doesn’t mean you are a wimp and it could save your life.
5) Safety equipment is only safe if it fits correctly.
6) You can access all the information you need free on the CDC website. www.cdc.gov/concussion
Here was my favorite part:
I got to meet Commissioner Goodell who is a lovely man. He has twins too, so we have a lot in common.
He also let me sit in his chair.
Then he sort of expected me to work. I offered, but I guarantee nobody even remotely involved with the 1999 St. Louis Rams or the Burt Emanuel Rule wants me levying fines. I am looking at you Carollo.
The meeting was informative and provided great discussion as well as valuable resources. I love it that the NFL is concerned about safety in youth sports. Let’s make football fun and safe for everyone.