Proper Equipment Essential for Protecting Athletes at Play
Bam! Kapow! Smack! The onomatopoeic words made famous as cartoonish subtitles that appeared during villain fights on the old television series Batman have new meaning as youth-sports season gets underway.
Baseball, soccer and softball leagues return to the field in February for Spring play, and that means injuries most likely will be in store for boys and girls who have joined a team, no matter how seasoned an athlete they are.
Baseballs and softballs can break noses. Soccer goals can crush children. Inspecting, maintaining and wearing appropriate equipment is essential in preventing accidents that don’t need to happen.
On the diamond, all it takes is the doink of a foul to send the ball in an unexpected direction that usually involves the batter and catcher.
“All batters should wear a helmet and all catchers should be equipped with a facemask, chest protector, and shin guards,” according to an article on an insurance-company Web site titled Using Proper Sports Equipment. “Male athletes should also strongly consider the use of a protective cup. This equipment should be worn at all times including practice.”
Parents signing up their children for sports activities should be aware of the equipment required and make sure it is being worn. Cleats, for example, should be nonmetal, and gloves should fit snugly.
“Under no circumstances should a child be allowed to participate if they are missing any part of the necessary equipment,” the article states.
The popular sport of soccer is associated with a fair share of injuries, as well, including bruises, cuts, headaches and scrapes. Proper training, proper play, proper footwear and protective shin guards can minimize those injuries. But there’s another risk on the field that comes in the form of a 500-pound piece of equipment that houses the goalie. Soccer goals can tip over and crush children in their path. Children like to climb, and if they climb up on an unsecured soccer goal, the result could be deadly.
“The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has reports of at least 36 deaths since 1979 resulting from soccer goals falling over,” the agency issued in an alert titled “Movable Soccer Goals Can Fall Over On Children.” “Both homemade and professionally manufactured soccer goals are involved in these incidents.”
Movable soccer goals should be anchored when in use, only placed on flat fields and tied down when not in use, preferably with the nets removed, the CPSC said.
Here are some more tips for parents:
- Learn about the risks of all sports and weigh them.
- Require your child’s coach to have first-aid training.
- Be aware of how much your child is playing and practicing, and don’t let him or her overdo it.
“Demand safe fields and equipment, such as anchored goals and emergency telephones,” the National Center for Sports Safety recommends.
The reason for the abundance of precaution is the startling statistics surrounding youth-sports injuries. A total of 1.24 million children ended up in the emergency room in 2013 because of a bam, kapow or smack on the field, according to 2014 Safe Kids Worldwide study titled “Changing the Culture of Youth Sports.”