We at SportsSignup are deeply committed to keep youth athletes as safe as possible on and off the field. Having athletic trainers on stand-by for middle school and high school games can mean the difference between life and death for some players, the right equipment (like proper fitting pads and helmets) can protect players from more serious injuries in full-contact sports, and a focus on fundamentals means players know how to protect themselves (such as knowing NOT to tackle with the crown of their head) from some injuries. But accidents can and do happen in youth sports, and while we’d like to see zero torn ACLs among high school soccer players we know that even with the best safety measures and precaution kids can still get hurt.
One Long Island middle school is looking to take safety measures one step further. Weber Middle School in Port Washington has instituted a ban on footballs, baseballs, lacrosse balls, or anything that might hurt someone on school grounds. Port Washington schools Supt. Kathleen Maloney said the change in policy is warranted due to a rash of playground injuries. “Some of these injuries can unintentionally become very serious, so we want to make sure our children have fun, but are also protected,” Maloney said.
Or as Samantha Grossman of Time.com put it, “A Long Island middle school has banned the following things, in no particular order: footballs, baseballs, games of tag , cartwheels, and, you know, basically any fun of any kind.”
While we can understand the school’s desire to keep kids safe at recess are they taking these safety concerns a little too far? According to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, only about one third of high school students have daily gym classes and a little more than half of students nationwide are enrolled in a physical education class. And the CDC reports that more than 60% of children aged 9 to 13 do not participate in any organized physical activity during their non-school hours, meaning recess might be the only time during the entire day when kids really get the chance to get moving. By banning balls and restricting what kind of games kids can play on the playground, is this Long Island middle school doing more harm than good in the long run?
Getting your child involved in youth sports is one of the best ways to fight childhood obesity because it encourages them to be more active and learn to love physical activity. While we never want to see a child get hurt scrapped knees and elbows aren’t that bad of an injury in the grand scheme of things. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends against playing one sport year-round because it can lead to overuse injuries, but no one is calling for baseball as a whole to be banned to protect youth athletes’ shoulders. Like anything, physical activity is best in moderation so you give your body a chance to recovery.
Sure, a kid could definitely fall from the monkey bars and break their wrist, but they could also slip on someone’s spilled juice in the cafeteria and suffer the same injury. Can you really protect kids from every possible injury and accident out there?