September 20, 2010

Big Pops


I spent most of Saturday covering Pop Warner football games. Here's the photo essay, if anyone's interested. It's funny how ideas sometimes come to us later. The photo essay I did was a day of football, from 7-year-old flag footballers to 13-year-olds, some of whom were bigger and stronger than I am. But I couldn't help noticing the head injuries a few kids sustained during the games.

Concussions are a big issue in pro football, with medical staffs now prohibiting players from re-entering games. There's also talk about protecting high school football players. I'm attempting to spend some time with the medical staff at the Pop Warner games in the next few weeks to learn more about head injuries to 9- and 10-year-olds.

Kids see the ESPN highlight reels of vicious helmet-to-helmet blows and go out head hunting in their own games as a result. Maybe my hunch is wrong and there's no concussion issue at all at that level. There's also no guarantee I'll get to hang out with any medical personnel and nail down a story of some kind, but I'll keep ya posted on my progress.   

25 comments:

The Words Crafter said...

Wow, that's scary! I hope you ARE able to get some inside scoop. Every summer here in the south, and I'm sure everywhere else, children die because they're practicing in extreme heat and humidity.

Natasha Richardson-a simple head injury cost her her life. Imagine the impact of a head on collision with another player!

A serious issue indeed, Mr. Pilolla. Please do keep us posted.

Brian Miller said...

not like they have the rest of their lives to walk around as a vegetable...sheesh

Wild Rose said...

That is scary Ed i just hope most of those kids use their helmets the right way and know how dangerous some games can be. Hang in there and why is it we can't spank kids here when needed especially when they endanger themselves?

Ed Pilolla said...

there were several injuries, from a fractured wrist to a sprained knee. the youngest kid that went down and stayed down from a head injury was ten or eleven. he took a cheap shot, which happens. again, hunches can be wrong. first impressions are often not correct. it would be interesting to talk to doctors who have worked these games for years. i have a feeling that these people won't allow me to hang out with them, as they know concussions are a hot button issue, and any publicity on the subject they might consider bad publicity. maybe not. we'll see.

Being Me said...

Goodness me. That one image alone is horrifying. Contact sports at that age and getting concussions? It seems like a (scuse pun) no brainer really. No wonder they don't want any publicity...

Ed Pilolla said...

haha. that photo looks scary, but he was fine. he was more disappointed at allowing a touchdown.
the 7-year-olds have no issue with concussion-- at least i don't think so. they start wearing helmets at age nine, i believe. that's when they start hitting. i don't think nine-year-olds can generate hitting power to cause concussions. i think they need a year in pads to start developing some sting, but i'm only guessing. it would be fascinating to find answers to these questions.

Ed Pilolla said...

sorry for the confusion. i should have been more aware that the photo on top of writing about concussions makes it look like that boy got hurt. this is why everyone needs an editor, especially me.

Ed Pilolla said...

but i do like that image:) he's a gutsy kid.

Vicki Rocho said...

Awesome picture!

Are you looking just at football specifically or sports in general? I've always wondered about concussions in soccer with all that whacking the ball of your head...

Lori said...

When I looked at the photos on your photo essay link, the first one of the boy (Adam) with the HUGE eyes and the mouth guard that looks like a pacifier had me laughing out loud. :-) Oh thanks for a good start to my day!

Ed Pilolla said...

vicki: i don't know what i'm looking for just yet, other than talking to the medical staff. that's an interesting suggestion. i always thought i had a soft head becuz i couldn't handle the ball hitting my head in soccer.

lori: yeah, i like that photo of adam. that boy can run!

Claudia said...

jumped over to your photo essay and article - and like it a lot - both
like how you captured the action in the pics and the personal input of the coach in the article - well done ed!

DEZMOND said...

as a professor and a psychologist I really don't understand parents who would let their kids play violent or harmful sports.

Mark Dixon said...

At what age do they start using helmets? I noticed the younger ones don't have them.

Ed Pilolla said...

mark, nine years old, i believe.

Su-sieee! Mac said...

Hi, Ed, I enjoyed reading your Patch stories. It's been a long time since I've read honest-to-crafted news features. I want to say old-style but that may not make sense. Great photos, too! You've definitely captured the kids in delightful ways.

rachelsnyder said...

Ed,here is a phenomenal website on Concussion/Traumatic Brain Injury that will solidify whether you want to move ahead with your ideas. As a card-carrying member of the not-so-exclusive-anymore TBI club, my hunch is that once you learn more about this topic, you will not be able to turn away.

The post for Sept. 20, "Do all the concussions need to wreck us?" is in absolute synch with your own inklings and packed with sources and resources.

http://brokenbrilliant.wordpress.com/

Deidra said...

I love NFL football. But last weekend they talked about those head injuries and showed "highlights" of players out banging their heads on the ground, on other players' helmets, on the goal post. It was terrible. And they kept showing it...over and over. Made me squeamish. That was all before I even considered that the same thing might be going on outside of the NFL! I hope you get to learn more, and share it here with us!

Ed Pilolla said...

su-sieee! mac, thanks so much:)

rachel, i will check out the sites. much oblige. i have a feeling, however, no one will allow me or want me near the medical staff for a day. i asked three in-the-know parents for contacts to the medical staff and we'll see if i hear back from any of them. i'll also visit the staff on saturday and make my pitch. i'm sure they'll refer me to someone else.

deidra, i love nfl football too. and i love big hits. but that's the thing. those hits just aren't good for the human head. no big secret there. football is a violent sport.

magdalawit said...

Gorgeous photography, Ed!!

French Fancy... said...

Luckily I never had kids - I'd probably have kept them away from all sporting games in case of injury :)

Wine and Words said...

Great Pic Ed! Can I see inside you soon? I miss it.

~ Annie

ed pilolla said...

just talked to the president of the league and they seem to be very open to a story on head injuries and the medical attention the boys are given, which is great, obviously. places that are open tend to have excellent service, and that's how it appeared to me saturday. i'll keep ya posted.

magda, thanks so much:)

julie, maybe me too. but some boys just love physical play.

annie, thanks:) i'm steering in that direction.

The Empress said...

This makes me feel so good about me taking a stand and allowing none of this for our boys, before the age of 6th grade.

I stood firm: I choose my battles carefully, and on this one, I stood firm.

Thank you, I enjoyed the pat on my back just now.

Ed Pilolla said...

so i did the story. actually, i got beat on the story. national pop warner wouldn't call me back and i had jury duty. and the ap did a story on the new concussion policies at the youth level. so i still wrote out my story, with a heavier local slant. but the gift was i talked to a neurologist and wrote a separate story about his perspective and that was really well read. here's that story if interested: http://redondobeach.patch.com/articles/neurologist-warns-about-concussion-risk