Youth Sports Highlight Reel

How Can We Keep Athletes Safer in Youth Sports?

By Melissa Wickes
January 22, 2024
2 min

This week, we were disheartened to read a number of headlines about unsafe situations at youth sports games.

Instead of dwelling on them, we’re focusing on actionable steps we can take to make these environments safer, as well as the science we should know about as a community.

So we’ll get into some of the recent studies, advice, and news in youth sports safety and injury prevention that you should know about this week — along with other topics like golf in communities of color, Girls and Women in Sports Day, sportsmanship, and more.

1. Youth Sports Safety: In light of some recent upsetting events regarding youth sports safety, we wanted to emphasize the importance of doing everything you can to keep youth sports a safe environment — including running coach background checks, injury prevention, and more.

Click here for two free guides to youth sports risk management.

2. Universities across the country are hosting events to celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day — including Northern Illinois University (Feb. 7), who will be hosting a Women’s Excellence Panel Discussion that is open to the public, and James Madison Athletics (Jan. 27), who will be hosting an event to encourage local girls to engage in physical activity, foster teamwork, and a healthy lifestyle. The event at JMU is open to all girls in kindergarten through eighth grade.

3. A new Boston University study found that about 2 in every 5 athletes younger than 30 at the time of their death had a disease known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) — a neurodegenerative disease caused by repetitive brain trauma. Most had played contact sports like football, ice hockey, rugby, and wrestling. It’s important to note that due to the study’s limited scope, the research falls short of suggesting more than 2 in every 5 athletes in youth sports actually develop CTE.

Julie Stamm, a clinical assistant professor in the university’s Department of Kinesiology, says considering delaying when athletes start playing contact sports is one way to reduce the risk of CTE.

4. Despite the research above and the findings of another study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2017) that found 21 percent of high school football players to have CTE, California Governor Gavin Newsom has promised to veto a California bill that bans youth tackle football.

“I am deeply concerned about the health and safety of our young athletes, but an outright ban is not the answer,” Newsom said in a statement. “My administration will work with the Legislature and the bill’s author to strengthen safety in youth football — while ensuring parents have the freedom to decide which sports are most appropriate for their children.”

Perhaps the LIGHT helmet — the first helmet to address superior player performance and protection through the reduction of weight — could become a larger part of youth injury prevention strategy.

5. [VIDEO] In a new report by the MLSE Foundation, 49% of competitive youth athletes said sports need to be made more affordable, and 39% wanted more spaces where they could feel physically and psychologically safe to be themselves.

Youth Sports News Highlight Reel

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