Hockey moms aren’t swayed by expert opinion on contact sports
Many Verona youth hockey parents say a concussion expert’s New York Times article urging them not to let their kids play contact sports because of the long-term brain risks is not swaying their opinion to let their children play.
In the opinion piece titled “Don’t Let Kids Play Football,” author Bennet Omalu, who is the subject of the upcoming Will Smith movie showing his research linking NFL athletes’ concussions to permanent brain damage, argues until young athletes’ brains are completely developed, and they reach the age of consent, they should not play certain contact sports like football, hockey, mixed martial arts and boxing.
However Angela Pakes Ahlman, whose 10-year-old son Max plays on a Verona youth league team, said only one of the approximately 30 hockey parents has expressed concerns since the article was released Monday.
“And I’d be kidding myself if I said if my kid doesn’t play hockey, football or lacrosse that he is not ever going to get hurt,” Pakes Ahlman said. “So I don’t let that stop me. It’s an analysis by paralysis.”
Pakes Ahlman said her fear is her son is more likely to be hurt during every day play time, when her son is not protected by expensive gear. And this type of education is just as important as parents whose children play contact sports.
The American Academy of Pediatrics latest youth tackling recommendations, which a University of Wisconsin physician helped author, in part says a zero tolerance culture of illegal hits must be adopted. And while they would like to see no tackling, at the very least they want an expansion of no-contact leagues and to delay the age kids can tackle.