What's Too Long for Youth Athlete Protection?


Recently, I taught a coach training class for the first time. The class was two hours long with the first session focusing on concussions and the second on sexual predators/offenders, child abuse and bullying. 

At the end of the training class, we asked each attendee to fill out an evaluation. Typically, I look forward to reading the responses from all our classes. These results were very positive with the exception of a few. The few comments that stuck with me and eventually irritated me to the point I needed to vent were the comments that stated the class was "too long."

I started thinking, "Well, maybe one hour for concussion training and one hour on the three subjects is too long." Quickly, though, I came to my senses and realized that one hour on each session is the minimum that should be dedicated to each of these sessions.

Then, I became frustrated and angry. 

I started thinking about a conversation I had earlier that week with Dr. Barbara Morris that teaches our concussion class. We both expressed dismay in the apathy of the coach volunteers and parents with regards to taking concussions seriously. We talked about an incident I experienced in February when my son hit his head playing soccer at school and I was never notified by the school. He came home and complained of neck pain and woke up the next day still complaining of neck pain. That's when he told me he hit his head playing soccer. I took him to school and asked the teacher. Sure enough, he had hit his head playing soccer. I called Dr. Morris for advice and she said to get him to a doctor to have him checked out and it turned out he had a neck sprain.

Most recently, my son hit his head at Sea World. I told her that I secretly texted her that day because the parents I was with told me I was overreacting and one of them is studying to be a nurse! We shook our heads and, sadly, we both came to the same conclusion, "Until there is a fatality amongst one of our youth sports organizations, no one will take concussions seriously."

Now, back to becoming frustrated and angry over the class running too long; the class actually ran over by 20 minutes. It ran over by 20 minutes because we started late (some attendees were not on time) and then we had a break so we could switch out equipment between sessions. 

Hmmm, so 20 minutes late is too long. Too long to listen and possibly learn something that may save a child's life or prevent them from being exposed to abuse, bullying or falling prey to a sex offender/predator.

I have to say, that I am extremely disappointed in the "too long" comments.  I wonder though, when something happens - because as we all know it is not a matter of if, but when - if that 20 minutes will have been time wasted because the class was "too long"?

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the National Alliance for Youth Sports.

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