Ryan Mason was about to hit his prime. The English midfielder, just 26 years old, was making a name for himself the highest level of professional soccer. But then, after just one head injury, he found out he would never play again. Head injuries have been plaguing athletes, both amateur and professional, for years and it is important that both athletes and coaches understand the risks of playing in any impact sport.
Jon Parrott has had experience coaching for almost three decades. Over that time, he has remained confident in the way that Urbandale schools deal with head injuries. “Even 29 years ago, we had an awareness of concussions
. We started formalizing the process to have a protocol to go through when a kid has a suspected head injury. Even before we started having the Impact Test, the student who had a suspected head injury had to get a doctors clearance to be allowed to practice.
Parrott also says that Urbandale protects the coaches from having to make tough decisions about their athletes, which also shields them from the anger of parents or the athletes themselves. “We’ve had that situation come up, where the parent or kid thinks it’s okay, but one thing nice that Urbandale does is that they take it out of the coach’s hands. They say [the athlete] just can’t play until the student follows the protocol. Coaches should not be making that decision, it’s a healthcare issue. We’re just knuckleheads- we shouldn’t be deciding weather the kid plays or not.”
Brennan Kennedy, a wide receiver for the Urbandale J-hawks, has been playing football since he was seven years old. He too, lauds the efforts of Urbandale coaches and staff to ensure that their athletes are okay. ““It was during practice. I ran a crossing route, and someone blindside hit me. This happened in eighth grade. [The coaches] immediately rushed onto the field and asked if I was okay. They took my helmet off, told me to breath, and all that other stuff. They picked me up and took me to the side of the field and told me to go to the doctor.” Kennedy also confirms that he knew the dangers of head injuries before he ever experienced one. “I was very aware. Football has its downsides and everything, so when it happened I knew immediately what had happened and what to do.”
Sports and other athletic competitions will never go away despite it’s risks. Contact heavy sports, like football, are ingrained into American society and both athletes and spectators enjoy every faucet of these sports. However, as society grows more aware of the dangers that these competitions can have, people are moving towards a safer experience for everyone.