From: Stephanie Haas <shaas@...
Subject: Re: [riverhill] SAFETY Re: soccer risks and field maintenance
Date: Sunday, October 01, 2000 5:03 AM
In the realm of amateur sports, even in everyday life, we have to accept a
certain level of risk. In any activity involving people, not just
competitive activities, injuries happen. While my own generation (I'm 45)
seems to have originated the concept that we can somehow remove all risk
from various activities, athletic or otherwise, we can't, and the result of
attempts to remove risk is sometimes worse than the original problem.
I have coached West Howard County girls' rec soccer for seven years, various
levels of girls' rec and travel basketball and girls' fastpitch softball. I
do not have medical expertise, but have taken several CPR classes in the
distant past. Much of what I know about handling injuries has been learned
from watching the treatment of my own injuries when I played, watching
treatment of my daughters' or other kids' injuries in the recent past and
reading about recommended treatment whenever I happen across an article or
web page about sports injuries. In all cases, the organizations for whom I
have coached have not provided special training and are usually just
thrilled to have someone volunteer to coach.
I have witnessed as many injuries at sporting events at all amateur levels,
including high school, that are unrelated to the game, as I have seen happen
as a result of competition. I suspect that I have seen more injuries occur
with younger siblings playing on the sidelines, crashing into the stands or
falling off of playground equipment, falling into drainage swails while
dribbling soccer balls, or just tripping while playing, than I have seen
game-related injuries. My older daughter has received as many serious
sports-related injuries (two broken wrists, one stress fracture in her back)
as I have seen among all other kids in my daughters' sports events, and none
of her serious injuries were a result of collisions, dangerous or reckless
play or unsafe sports-related activities (batting without a helmet, playing
football without a helmet, etc.).
In only one case of my daughter's injuries did we have a qualified nurse
present. I think that she just happened to be at the Glenwood soccer complex
that day. Today, at my other daughter's basketball game, a kid playing in
the hall smacked his head and sustained a huge cut. My friend, a trained
paramedic who was watching my daughter play, treated it with toilet paper,
napkins and paper towels until the ambulance came, because he traveled to
the game in my car and didn't have his medical bag. While hoping for
someone capable of providing medical assistance to be in attendance is not
ideal, we have to remember that moms (yes, moms still handle most of the
daily home accident repair...political correctness aside) and dads deal with
many of the same traumas every day at home and often know how to handle many
of the problems that occur.
We can expect a reasonable level of maintenance of sports fields and courts.
Economically and practically, though, the cost of trying to achieve perfect
levels of maintenance and safety measures to remove almost all risk is not
attainable because of limited financial resources to pay for it. Most sports
organizations, even our school systems, can barely cover their liability
insurance related to sports. Finding sufficient qualified medical personnel
to cover all of the sports events each weekend and maintenance personnel to
maintain all of the sports fields at a very high level is economically and
logistically impossible. Plus, many medical personnel won't take these
assignments because of clauses in their malpractice insurance or because
they want to watch their own kids play.
Some of the "solutions" for various "unsafe" activities (wearing helmets to
head balls in soccer to protect young players' necks) will just lead to new
problems, like the helmets being used as weapons (as occurs in football).
Maybe, we can stop teaching kids to head the ball or throw curve balls at
such a young age. The solution for goalposts falling on kids is to stop kids
from swinging on them in the first place.
So, we have several choices...
1) We can eliminate competitive amateur sports because we perceive them as
too dangerous in relation to their benefits.
2) We can pay what many people would regard as unaffordable fees for our
kids to participate in sports, attempting to achieve that desired high level
of safety, but I don't think we will demonstrably improve the level of
3) We can tolerate a modest amount of risk.
Personally, my daughters enjoy their sports too much and learn too many
valuable life lessons (working together to achieve goals, accepting the bad
outcomes with the good, winning and losing with class, learning that life
isn't always fair) to take them away because of insufficiently maintained
goalposts or lack of medical personnel on site. I find the efforts described
in this discussion group to improve teenage driving skills a much more
practical and cost-effective way to help my kids reach adulthood.
(Note to discussion group moderator and everyone else: Sorry that I went on
for so long. I usually just follow the threads and am only occasionally
antagonized enough to respond, which is fortunate for everyone.)
father (much to her chagrin) of Stephanie Haas...a student at River Hill