The Ouch Factors; Dollars and Incensed
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The Ouch Factors About 40 percent of all emergency room visits for children between the ages of five and 14 are the result of sports-related injuries, according to reports from HealthDay News.
Reporter Serena Gordon spoke with health professionals who attributed the rising number of children's sports-related injuries to too much sports participation and not enough rest - the formula producing "overuse" injuries.
"Sports are much more competitive at an earlier age, and many children are playing one sport year-round now," Cynthia LaBella, medical director of the Institute of Sports Medicine at Chicago's Children's Memorial Hospital, told Gordon. "They're not getting enough time off for their bodies to recover. Or, they might be playing three sports at once, and what that amounts to is that they never get a day off."
LaBella also told HealthDay that stricter sports-related regimenting may be contributing to higher injury rates in children, who are particularly prone to injury in growth plates, where soft tissue is not yet fully developed.
"Kids are now subject to adult schedules and organizational formats for adult-driven sports," she said. "In the past, kids directed the activities in the backyard. Where adults provide schedule and structure, kids may be pushed beyond what they can do on their own."
Dollars and Incensed The school board overseeing a large city district and escalating annual expenses recently learned that money isn't always the best measure of a budget cut, especially when youth sports are involved.
The Tucson (Ariz.) Unified School District's governing board is charged with the unsavory task of cutting more than $9 million from its proposed operating budget in order to balance upcoming expenses that include some $5 million in contractual raises to teachers. One of the boards proposed cuts: all middle school sports programs.
The mere suggestion caused near outrage among many of the district's parents, students and staff, about 50 of whom showed up at an early October board meeting to protest the change, according to local reports. "I have no idea why they would propose it," Judd Weitzner, a teacher and coach within the district, told the Arizona Daily Star. A lot of kids who are borderline kids play sports." Local NBC affiliate, KVOA, reported that rallying parents carried signs that read "Kids that play in school stay in school," and "Save our sports: We pay, let us play."
Within minutes of the meeting, the school board unanimously reneged the suggestion at the urging of the district's superintendent who, according to reports, said only about $56,000 - largely in the form of transportation costs - could be saved annually by cutting middle school sports. According to KVOA, the board is now considering cuts that include nearly $1 million through bus route consolidations, more than $200,000 by enacting a hiring freeze of bus monitors and $50,000 by closing the clothing bank that serves many of the district's needy children. One eighth-grade soccer player, Claire Spencer, offered KVOA the following poignant analysis: "They really have to make decisions to prioritize everything."
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