U.S. Soccer Bans Heading for Players Age 10 and Under
Donna O’Donnell Figurski
Concussions from playing soccer rank second to football in boys’ sports, but they are first in girls’ sports and second among all sports. Of the more than 3 million youths playing soccer in the U.S., 50,000 concussions were reported among high-school soccer players in 2010, more than the number from wrestling, basketball, baseball, and softball combined. Parents and players brought a lawsuit accusing U.S. Soccer and other U.S. youth soccer organizations of negligence. As a result, U.S. Soccer established new rules that prevent heading by players age 10 and under and prohibits heading by 11- to 13-year-olds in practice. There are also new guidelines for substitution. For example, a player who replaces another player who has to leave the game because of a suspected concussion does not count as a substation.
U.S. Soccer governs only a fraction of youth soccer teams in the U.S., so they are recommending strongly that other leagues follow suit. Dr. Cantu, a neurologist and a concussion specialist at Boston University, said that children’s brains are crucially developing and that the ages of 10 to 14 are especially critical in brain development. He also maintains that children’s neck muscles are not strong enough to support the head, making the risk of injury even greater. Safer Soccer, an organization that seeks a ban on heading for players 14 and under, applauds the new rules. (The advisory board of Safer Soccer includes Brandi Chastain, Cindy Parlow Cone, and Joy Fawcett – former players of the women’s U.S. national soccer team, which has won four Olympic gold medals since 1996.) (Full story with video)
(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)
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