SEVERAL MONTHS ago I turned on CSPAN: my go-to place in the middle of the night if sleep evades me. This night a panel was assembled before a congressional committee to answer questions about the opioid epidemic and in particular on “protecting the health and safety of athletes.” Because I had met one of the panel members several years ago, I decided to watch and listen.

Prescription opioids are powerful pain-reducing medications that include prescription oxycodone, hydrocodone and morphine, among others, and have both benefits as well as potentially serious risks. These medications can help manage pain when prescribed for the right condition and when used properly. But when misused or abused, they can cause serious harm, including addiction, overdose and death.

Opioids are a way of dealing with the pain associated with athletic injuries, which then allows you to keep playing, although injured. Not a very good practice.

Touching the Floor drawing by Bonnie PruddenThe question then becomes why are so many injured?

  1. Children are not fit to play. They go into the game without the physical strength, flexibility and endurance to withstand what the game requires.

As with almost anything preparation is key. In this American world everyone rides, sits and watches from day one. The body is never built to potential except by those lucky enough to be “naturals” …the ones who escape the confines of the crib, car, home and classroom and take to the woods, the park or the shore on foot and at a run.

  1. Injuries on the Football Field - drawing by Bonnie pruddenAll too often the children’s sports program is not about the children. It is about winning at all costs, the ego of or the “keep the job” of the person in charge and in some cases parents living through their children’s glory.
  2. Ignorance on the part of either inadequately trained or uneducated callous coaches encourages injury through poor training and practice habits rather than preventing injury through common sense, safe physical fitness programs.

Todays Sports Preparation - drawing by Bonnie PruddenWhen it comes down to it many athletic injuries are the result of lack of trained leadership, greed and ego…the hostile takeover of youth sports by adults.

Back to the CSPAN PANEL…
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
The Committee concluded a hearing to examine current issues in American sports, focusing on protecting the health and safety of American athletes, after receiving testimony from:

  1. Jay C. Butler, Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Chief Medical Officer, Anchorage. Specializing in the problem of opioid overdose.
  2. Shellie Pfohl, U.S. Center for SafeSport, Denver, Colorado. Advocate for background checks to avoid sexual abuse.
  3. Scott R. Sailor, National Athletic Trainers’ Association, Carrollton, Texas. Current training practices.
  4. Robert A. Stern, Boston University School of Medicine Alzheimer’s Disease and CTE Center, Boston, Massachusetts. Concussions leading to early onset of Alzheimer’s.
  5. Maureen Deutscher, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Deutscher lost her son to an overdose. Because of the drugs he was able to keep on playing despite repeated injuries. However, in order to do so he kept upping his dosage.
  6. Lauryn Williams, United States Anti-Doping Agency, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Lauryn is a Gold and Silver Olympic medalist. She Injured ball player in locker room - drawing by Bonnie Pruddenwas the ONLY one who talked about the importance of education as a means of prevention… but only regarding anti-doping.

NO one thought about the old proverb, “a stitch in time saves nine,” which means that prompt action needs to be taken in order to correct things before they really go wrong.

NO one talked about prevention of injuries.

NO one talked about building a body capable of playing without injury.

father and son exercise together - drawing by Bonnie PruddenEveryone had closed the barn door after the horse had fled.

Granted, there is a time and place for everything including medication. But the best prevention and protection is preparation. For instance, the best preparation for not drowning is to learn to swim. You cannot protect anyone… You can only prepare and hope that what you have provided will stand them in good stead.

Start young, at day one, to prepare your little one for life with a good strong, flexible, joyful body capable of performing on command.

Additional Resource Materials

  • How to Keep Your Child Fit from Birth to Six by Bonnie Prudden
  • Until it Hurts, America’s Obsession with Youth Sports and How it Harms Our Kids by Mark Hyman
  • Lord of the Locker Toom, the American Way of Coaching and its Effect on Youth by Martin Ralbovsky

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For more information about Bonnie Prudden®, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®, workshops, books, self-help tools, DVDs, educational videos, and blogs, visit www.bonnieprudden.com. Or call 520-529-3979 if you have questions or need help.

Enid Whittaker, Managing Director, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®