For many parents, the hard work, talents, achievements of their young children arreat sources of pride. There’s few greater joys for a family than seeing their young one perform in a violin concert, act in a play, or careen down a soccer field.
The sports field is a great place for a growing child or teen to shine while learning valuable lessons about teamwork, dedication, and fitness. But while parents should encourage their child’s interest in sports, they should also be aware of the associated risks for youth injury.
As youth sports become more competitive, the rate of serious and fatal sports-related injuries continues to rise. According to recent research released by Safe Kids Worldwide, well over 3,000 youths are sent to the emergency room for sports injury every day. Football, basketball, and soccer were the sports that reportedly caused the most injury, with baseball, softball, and volleyball following behind.
The most common injuries include:
- Sprains and strains
- Broken and fractured bones
- Concussions and head injuries
These injuries are often made worse because of the tendency of young athletes to continue to play while injured, neglecting to tell their parents or coaches about their injury out of fear of missing out or letting their team down.
Tips for Reducing Youth Sports Injuries
Don’t let these numbers scare you into hanging up your child’s football helmet or locking away their soccer balls and basketballs. Instead of discouraging youth from playing sports, parents and coaches can work with young athletes to encourage safe practices and behaviors. Below are some tips for reducing injuries for young athletes:
Introduce proper training techniques. Coaches should provide young athletes with proper training techniques to reduce their chances of getting hurt on the field, including stretches, warm-up exercises, and injury prevention skills.
Discourage foul pay. Sports teams should never tolerate foul play, rule breaking, or rowdy or aggressive behaviors. Upon spotting such behavior, coaches and other authorities should call fouls.
Set some ground rules. At the start of the season, parents, coaches, and athletes should meet to discuss rules and procedures for handling injuries.
Report injuries. Coaches and parents should encourage athletes to tell an authority immediately after they are injured. Never pressure an athlete into continuing to play after being injured, as this can turn a minor injury into a much more serious one.
Emergency response training. Coaches and other adults managing sports teams should be trained in CPR and AEC.
Who is Liable for Youth Sports Injuries?
Even the most robust, athletic, and responsible kid can get hurt on the field. When your kid is hurt during a school or other external youth program’s sports event, who is responsible?
It depends. Schools and youth programs have a legal obligation to adequately educate and protect their participants, and should be held accountable if they fail to uphold this standard. These duties include:
Providing adequate instruction. Youth sports programs should provide participants with adequate instruction on the sport, including training as well as an explanation of the rules, risks, and proper equipment usage.
Providing proper equipment and protective gear. This could include helmets, shoulder pads, chest protection, and mouth guards.
Matching size and skill level. Authority figures in charge of sports teams should make a reasonable effort to match players with fellow players of the same height, weight, skill, and level of aggression.
Providing supervision. Coaches and other authority figures should provide supervision for practices and events as is appropriate to the age group.
Realizing realistic limits. Coaches should encourage athletes to do their best, but not to the point where they may seriously injure themselves. Pushing young athletes beyond reasonable limits can result in serious physical problems.
Providing appropriate injury care. After a young athlete is injured, authorities should provide appropriate care to keep the injury from becoming worse.
Consult medical professionals in the event of emergency. If an serious injury or emergency situation such as an asthma attack occurs, authority figures have a responsibility to contact medical professionals in a timely manner.
After entrusting the care of your child to schools and other youth programs, it can be particularly upsetting when your child becomes injured due to lack of care, instruction, or safety measures. If your child has been injured on the playing field due to a school or program’s failure to uphold these duties, you should hold them accountable for their negligence. By doing so, you can you receive compensation for your child’s medical bills and overall pain and suffering, while working to prevent acts of negligence like this one from happening in the future.
It can be difficult to prove fault for a youth sports injury, particularly if you already signed a waver or consent form stating you understand the risk. That’s why it’s essential to contact a skilled sports injury lawyer who understands local Florida laws in this area, and can fight for the rights of you and your child.
About the author:
John K. Lawlor, a South Florida personal injury attorney who focuses his practice on complex personal injury, wrongful death, and professional malpractice, founded the law firm of Lawlor, White, & Murphey in 1998. For over 17 years, Mr. Lawlor’s trial advocacy and litigation skills, as well as his wide-ranging legal expertise, have provided plaintiffs and their families with a distinct advantage when seeking financial compensation and justice for injuries caused by the negligence of others. Mr. Lawloris an EAGLE member of the Florida Bar Association and an active member of the American Association for Justice, the Broward County Justice Association, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and several professional associations.