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High School Notes: A Girl Quarterback, a Giant Screen and a Skunk

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It was just a preseason game, but it was historic nonetheless for one Florida high school.

With time ticking down in the fourth quarter of its game against Loxahatchee (Fla.) Seminole Ridge, Plantation (Fla.) South Plantation put its third-string quarterback in to finish the game. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Except the quarterback was a she. Read more…

On Concussions, Youth Sports and the NFL

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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.

Read more…

Kids’ Sports — No Drama

As a detour today from our regular drama around here, I submit, in 100 words or so, that there is no place in kid’s sports for adult drama.

My kids have been involved in sports of some sort for the past 13 years or so, so I feel like I know a little about this.

To Parents, Coaches, and other League Officers and Volunteers:

KEEP THE DRAMA OFF OF THE FIELD. We are here for our kids to learn. We are here for our kids to have fun. If you can’t keep the drama to yourself, then don’t come around. The kids don’t need to hear it. It’s a bad example that they shouldn’t be following.

That is all.

Kendra has had it. Could you tell?

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Ain’t That A Kick In The Head

Among all the other evidence that I took leave of my senses between the ages of 18 and 22, I played rugby in college. Fall and Spring. Six seasons, and a host of injuries that included three concussions. Since this was “the olden days,” I sat out of practice a week and that was it. No CT scans, or even much follow-up from the medical staff at my school. Other than my first trip to the concussion rodeo, I only ever saw a doc once.

This is a perfect example of “now that we know better, we do better.” Concussion awareness programs are everywhere today, from the NFL to elementary school (to The Onion). And now Dick’s Sporting Goods has created PACE, Protecting Athletes through Concussion Education.

Through PACE, Dick’s Sporting Goods will supply up to one million young athletes across more than 3,300 middle and high schools nationwide with ImPACT software, a scientifically-validated computerized concussion evaluation system. It is a computerized, neurocognitive assessment tool that is used by medical doctors, psychologists, athletic trainers, and other licensed healthcare professionals to assist them in determining an athlete’s ability to return to play after suffering a concussion. Compared to my experience, WHAT A CONCEPT!!!

Here’s an article about Schaumburg, Illinois schools’ experience with ImPACT.

Schools need to apply in order to get the software. To apply for your school, visit http://www.mydickssportinggoods.com/pace/ and click “Submit Your School” on the left-hand side.

Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis tries out the ImPACT baseline concussion software at the PACE event at Dick's Sporting Goods in White Plains, NY.

Get Off the Phone, Soccer Parents

The oldest boy is playing soccer. The kind of soccer where they actually have practices and games and as a parent you have to go.

He’s so excited he can’t see straight.

He’s also not very good at it. That’s fine. The boy isn’t all that athletic. Maybe he’ll grow into it. Maybe he won’t. But he’s having fun, and he thinks he’s good and loves it. To me, that’s what it’s all about at this stage in the game.

I will freely admit I had my cell phone out, texting a girlfriend while they were getting organized at the beginning of practice. I had a book, I had my great big old picnic-style blanket spread out, purse half dumped and was putzing around doing this and that. But as practice got going, I set down my phone and sat to watch the shenanigans.

Eight-year-old boys who don’t have a clue how to play soccer trying to practice playing soccer is sort of a hoot.  They’re uncoordinated, they don’t pay attention and I just find there to be something joyous and hilarious about them. They’re playing a game in its least competitive form, and it’s just fun.

So all this parental musing about the nature of sport aside, I notice a kid shoving another kid out on the field. Being a completely judgmental parent, I look around to see whose jerkwad kid this is.

And that’s when I noticed.

Everyone is on their phone except me.

Texting, surfing, talking. They’re doing anything except watching the field. So I sit and observe the parents. Thumbs are flying and smiles spread over their faces as they continue to communicate with their digital world that they’ve brought with them to the soccer field.

They are missing it. They are missing the sucky dribbling and passing. They are missing the boys’ total inability to weave in and out of cones. They are missing the corner shot that knocked a kid down.

They are missing their boys being 8 years old and trying to learn a sport. This moment won’t come back. As a matter of fact, it’s over.

I’m not a perfect parent. I text more than I should and hell if my phone would surf the web I’d be snagging content from it as well. But if I believe sports are important enough for my child to play, then they ought to be important enough for me to pay attention to while they learn.

Get off the phone. Jerks.