Protecting our youth is a priority

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 13, 2008

The issue: National Youth Sports Safety Month

Our position: Children should have fun, but adults should do their part to protect them.

It is no coincidence that National Youth Sports Safety Month falls in April.

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The warmer weather gives school-age children a good excuse to get outside. Recreation leagues are starting up all over the place, and most importantly, we&8217;re not that far removed from the end of the school year and the beginning of summer break.

But danger lurks with outdoor activity.

More than 3.5 million children in the U.S. under the age of 15 are treated for sports injuries, According to Safe Kids USA. Nearly 40 percent of all sports-related injuries treated at emergency rooms are for children ages 5 to 14.

Surprisingly, most of the injuries related to organized sports in this country happen during practice, not games. Kids will be kids, but adults have to have a watchful eye.

One of the most amazing sights this city has to offer is a night at the Selma Softball Complex or Dallas County Sportsplex on any given night during the summer.

Kids playing under the lights who wait anxiously for that next pitch is a wonderful thing to behold.

The city recreation department has done an admirable thing in providing insurance free of charge to all players participating in the program. The protection has to go a lot further, however, beginning with coaches and parents.

Players who know what they are doing are less likely to get injured. Getting players to practice consistently and in a timely manner would go a long way, not only in team unity, but in helping a player learn to protect himself while on the field.

We always hear about the &8220;psycho coaches&8221; who push players too hard and sometimes snap beyond the point of recognition.

Undoubtedly, those cases are few and far between, but that doesn&8217;t mean any single coach is above going across that line.

There are rules in place such as pitch counts and equipment regulations, and they weren&8217;t put there just for good show. Everyone who steps foot on a ball field should be well aware of them &8212; everyone. That goes for umpires and assistant coaches.

It would also put a lot of parents&8217; minds at ease knowing their children&8217;s coaches are certified in CPR and first aid.

Here are some other tips from the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation Inc.:

It is true that older athletes are more prone to injury because they are larger and move faster, causing more powerful collisions. But a ball player is never too young to learn the basics of safety, if for no other reason than to be more knowledgeable once he or she matures.

This may only be a game, but it becomes a lot more serious once someone gets careless.