Stories about: young athlete safety

Coaches and alcohol: young athletes need leaders, not friends

A Massachusetts high school hockey coach is under investigation following allegations that underage drinking took place in his team’s locker room, possibly with his consent. Dale Dunbar—long-time coach of the Winthrop hockey team and former pro-hockey player—is currently on administrative leave while police and school officials review surveillance tapes to see if he, or other members of the coaching staff, provided teenage players with alcohol or had knowledge of their drinking after a tough season-ending loss in a state tournament.

A police officer driving by the rink noticed that on the night of the big loss there were several lights on and a suspicious amount of movement inside the rink, especially considering it was practically midnight. When he entered the rink’s locker room, he found team members and two coaches, along with empty beer cans. The officer said he smelled alcohol in the air, but he did not report seeing any minors drinking.

The actual events of that night, and whether or not Dunbar violated any laws, will no doubt come to light as the investigation continues. In the meantime, the media coverage around the story could have some parents wondering about the behavior of their own kids’ coaches.

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AAP releases guidelines for young athletes with hypertension

Young Player Waiting to BatEarlier this month, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued new guidelines concerning young athletes with mildly elevated blood pressure. The guidelines state that youth with high blood pressure are safe to participate in sports, but notes that kids with more serious blood pressure problems need to make training and lifestyle changes before taking part in high-intensity sports or workouts.

“The decision on when an athlete with high blood pressure can safely participate in sports is based on the sport they play and the severity of their blood pressure,” says Bridget Quinn, MD, of Children’s Hospital Boston’s Sports Medicine Program.

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Children’s expert pushes for concussion safety

Asian football playerWhen a child athlete gets a head injury during a game it’s a scary moment for everyone. After the downed player gets back on his or her feet the sense of relief is tangible. And when the still-woozy player jumps right back into position, the support from the sidelines can border on electric. Comments on the player’s “toughness” or abundance of “heart” are often made, sometimes shouted above the applause and cheers of the approving crowd. This attitude is supported in professional sports where concussions are often mentioned in the same breath as “back spasms” in terms of severity.

Yet, the more doctors and researchers learn about concussions the more they realize that players who immediately return to the game after a head injury (and the coaches who sanction it) are engaging in very risky behavior. Brain injuries, including concussions, can cause serious cognitive and neurological damage and can even be fatal. Kids who suffer a concussion are also more vulnerable to suffer a second one, especially if they’re roughed up before the original injury has fully healed. Repeated concussions suffered over the course of a few days or weeks can compound the neurological damage and greatly increase the chance of permanent brain damage or death.

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