Concussed Tiger Parents

I know what you are thinking: “Another Tiger Mom post?! What could anyone possibly add to that discussion at this point?” I generally agree, so I’ll be brief.

Last week as I was checking out at CVS, this cover caught my eye. What I found most interesting was the smaller headline at the top: “Health Special: Kids and concussions.”  I don’t normally read Time (given my weekly reading of The Economist, The New Yorker, Sports Illustrated, and People [quite a diverse collection, I know], not to mention my monthly magazine subscriptions and my daily Internet routine, I have little, well, time) but the juxtaposition of these two stories meant I had to pick up the issue.

In the magazine itself the two stories appear back-to-back. I figure on some level this must have been deliberate by the editors. But, then again, maybe not, given that the concussions piece was likely in the works for some time. In any event all these youth concussions, on some level, are the result of American Tiger parents enrolling their kids in competitive sports in the hopes of snagging an NCAA scholarship or a spot in the pros.  Before the professionalization of youth sports (think paid coaches, year-round seasons, and early specialization) concussions were the result of child’s play on playgrounds and during recess. Now they are the stuff of lawsuits and stress.

Interestingly, in that same week’s issue of The New Yorker, Ben McGrath wrote a great piece on concussions and the NFL.  The youth component is implied, but the connection between excessive competition, athletics, and injury is clear.  When will others see the connections and start devising solutions, like better credentialing of trainers/coaches in youth sports and a limitation of the hours kids can engage in these fun but dangerous activities?



  1. Anonymous says:

    Early specialization in sports must contribute to injury.

  2. Hilary Levey Friedman says:

    Absolutely– especially when it comes to overuse injuries.

  3. Smart. But how do you regulate the number of hours a kid engages in these activities? For better or worse, it's kind of up to the parents, no?

  4. Hilary Levey Friedman says:

    @RRC- I am going to blog about the answer to your question tomorrow. It is such a good one, it deserves its own post!

  5. I'm pretty sure whenever I hear about youth sports injuries, the talk is not about kids doing less hours, but rather how to make even better gear so they can play just as much but with fewer lost teeth / concussions / broken bones / etc.

  6. Hilary Levey Friedman says:

    Val- You are so one of my most loyal readers!

    I agree a lot is about making it so people can play more when it comes to equipment.

    However, there is also a lot of talk about cross-training. Again, this may be the same number of hours, but it's decreasing hours in specific sports.

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