Faking injuries.
                It has come to my attention, whether it be discussing this new trend with athletic trainers, coaches, or just watching the multiple youth sports games and practices that I attend on a weekly basis, that injuries are on the rise. But what has struck me hard was the fact that some of these reported injuries were not actually real traumatic injuries that required extended time off to heal for a physical problem. What is creeping into youth and high school sports is mental injuries and exhaustion. An injury became an excuse to get out of playing for a certain team that they belonged to. Fear of what the coach might say, fear of retribution from an organization, or even the saddest excuse of all, fear of parents and the pressure they put on these kids to keep playing because of the time and money they invested in their “careers” (Their word not mine).
                This fear of parents’ reaction to the child’s play has children faking an injury so that they can get needed rest. They know if they don’t play they can’t get yelled on the field or in the car on the way home. Youth sports are no longer fun for them and they know there is no DI scholarship out there for them. Even more so, they know that it is not fun to play their sport anymore and they fear the stigma attached to them if they quit. How very sad.
                But what struck me about this was that some players were coming back into the game soon after they were injured. In one high school football game alone seven players required treatment on the field for what seemed to be cramp related issues. This caught my attention. I started to watch more carefully as players from the fall sports, primarily football and soccer went to the trainers for taping or other ailments. I started to see player not wanting to continue to practice. They did not seem interested in the games they were playing.
                So the next thing I did was start to question coaches, trainers, and players. Stunned was the first word that popped into my head. I started to hear stories of players faking injuries because they were tired. Other players faking injuries to avoid the pressure being put on them to perform. Still other players exaggerating injuries so that they could get attention from their trainers and sympathy from their friends and family.
                I even heard of a player using a so called injury to explain why he did not make a certain team. He had been telling people he was off to college to play DI only to find out he wasn’t going to play and lo and behold he developed an injury that was his excuse for not making the team. Was that really it? Or did he get to college and find out that there was no way he was going to make the team he was trying out for?
                 Another player said she heard of a girl who simply started to cry when told she was going to have to continue to play on a varsity soccer team even though she was so tired and beat up from playing soccer year round that she just wanted to quit. So we are not serving the children and their needs
             Let’s talk children’s development. Three things I know from being a dad, a coach, and a player about kids. They want to be SAFE, They want to be loved, and they want to have fun. They are not mini adults or micro professional athletes. They are not remote controlled robots or personal joy sticks for adults. The hangover at the end of their youth sports experience is fraught with obesity, type II diabetes, psychiatric care, lack of motivation to get on with their lives and a dramatic lack of coping skills. 70% quit by the age of 13. If your business lost 70% of your customers you’d change in a hurry. Youth sports should too! These kids are rebelling in the only way they know how to remain as safe as possible, still be loved and not thought of as a failure. (Remember, they can’t fail if they don’t try)
 

 Kids want to have FUN. THEY PLAY FOR FUN! There are many cases on many teams where youth sports travel teams have turned into a life support system for just a few players, coaches’ ego, and organizations status and profit. Many pay very expensive fees, up to $10,000 a year, and more. When did it become ok to teach to the few at the expense of the many? Only 1% of all kids that go to a 4 year college play DI intercollegiate athletics and only half of that 1% play for free. Frozenshorts, with help from many others, is out to change that paradigm, and we are.

 

 Faking injuries is just another attempt by the children to reach out for help. There are also many children getting legitimately injured, over 3.5 million last year alone who may have had overuse injuries avoided if we would have listened to them.

 

V.J.’s website is frozenshorts.com he is on twitter @VJJStanley. You can reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or his office 585-743-1020. His new book Stop the tsunami In Youth Sports is available in paperback from his website.The ebook version is available through  a link on the front page of the website frozenshorts.com

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