Editorial: Be cautious, but encourage them to play

Nov. 04, 2013 @ 10:58 PM

We’ve long advocated the advantages of physical activity for all ages. We’re especially concerned about the youngest of our children, the improving technology grabbing their attention and just what has caused our country to be so individually large.

Yes, we’re saying out of shape. Overweight.

And then there’s the recent report from the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. They’ve called for a national system to track sports-related concussions, and specifically noted an unknown variable for at just how young an age concussions begin to happen.

Injuries to the brain are troubling, whether an athlete or anyone outside of athletics. People bang their heads all the time — doorways, overhangs, closets, cars, even falls.

Yes, we’re concerned about concussions.

But the final line of an Associated Press story, a sentence buried too far into the story to make many of the nation’s newspapers, is one we believe more important than being the last word.

That’s where sports injury specialist Dawn Comstock of the University of Colorado, after agreeing with the merits of the report, said parents should not be scared into pulling kids out of sports.

“The positives of sports as a physical activity still far outweigh the negatives,” she said. “We just need to make it as safe as possible.”

King Solomon showed wisdom in 1 Kings. In the end, he didn’t cut a baby in half.

There’s also the idiom with which we’re so familiar: don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.

We offer these reminders in conjunction with what Comstock astutely points out. We don’t believe simply not playing is the best course of action, though we realize every parent will make decisions in their best interest. And the choice to not play will be included.

Use the protective gear. Look into verifiable claims about safety equipment. Hear the coaches and supervisors at all levels, from the small fry level to every level above it, explain their understanding and implementation of safety. And be satisfied with the answers.

If not satisfied, yes, error on the side of caution and find another recreational outlet. Concussions are serious injuries.

But make sure kids stay active, and find ways for them to learn the many values taught through sports, competition and fair play.