This summer, a global epidemic came to the U.S. - soccer fever. Already
growing interest exploded with this year's World Cup and extends to
playing the game, not just watching. As soccer grows popular among players
of all ages and the high school season nears (November to February), we
mustn't forget safety. Head injuries are a significant concern, especially
youth soccer concussions. When these injuries are a result of a negligent
or even reckless decision by a governing body, coaching group, sponsor,
or other entity, legal action may be appropriate. Our Panama City sports
injury attorney can help secure money compensation for victims while prompting
changes that can prevent future playing field tragedies.
Soccer & Head Injury RIsks
In January 2010, Pediatrics featured a report on injuries in youth soccer.
Approximately 15.5 million people of all ages play soccer in the United
States and it is one of the fastest growing sports among high school athletes.
Unfortunately, soccer has a higher injury rate than many other contact
sports. Distressingly, 80% of soccer injuries involve players under age
24 and 44% of injured participants are under age 15. Soccer's concussion
rate is comparable to ice hockey and football. Although head injuries
account for only 3% of all soccer injuries, the authors suggest there
may be significant underreporting. Notably, most concussions result from
collisions with other players, not from intentional "heading"
of the ball.
As CBS Sports notes, the threat of soccer injuries, especially concussions,
was also evident in this summer's World Cup. Conversations about responding
to head injuries often centered on the story of Germany's Cristoph
Kramer. Despite a blow to his head, Kramer continued to play in the final
game against Argentina. He was eventually helped off the field. After
the game, Kramer admitted that he could not remember the first half of the game.
Parents' Lawsuit Focuses on Policy Change
CBS recounts this story in an article about a lawsuit recently filed in
federal court against FIFA, the United States Soccer Foundation, and other
soccer organizations. The suit has been filed by a group of parents who,
rather than seeking money, are demanding changes to youth soccer to promote
safety. The parents want to see improvements in the way head injuries
are diagnosed and changes to the guidelines governing returning to play
after a concussion or other head injury. The plaintiffs also want FIFA
to change the rules on substitutions to allow substitutions beyond the
usual three per game limit if the substitution is for medical reasons.
Although head injuries affect players of all ages, the FIFA suit focuses
on athletes under age 17 and the detrimental impact a concussion can have
down the road. One spokesperson for the plaintiffs notes that the medical
community has been calling for change for more than a decade. Another
suggested that high school soccer players experience a disproportionate
number of concussions compared to other sports. Two comments that sum
up the claims: 1) "FIFA's and US Soccer's failure to act
and protect these young players is no longer acceptable, given the epidemic
of concussive injuries and the failure to implement important advances
in medical treatments and protocols" and 2) "We believe it is
imperative we force these organizations to put a stop to hazardous practices
that put players at unnecessary risk."
Last week, USA Today reported a proposed FIFA policy change that would
halt play for three minutes so a team doctor could evaluate a head injury.
While there is no comment from the plaintiffs, Taylor Twellman, a top-ranked
player who ended his professional career at age 30 following repeat head
traumas, expressed disappointment. Suggesting the proposal fails to address
the root of the problem, Twellman called for the use of a neutral doctor
and opined that current practices endanger players' lives.
Helping Victims and Protecting Players
We support youth sports and believe people of all ages can benefit from
exercise and the team experience. However, sporting organizations must
protect players, especially children, from unnecessary risk. Head trauma,
especially when it involves a still-maturing brain, can have lifelong
consequences including ongoing medical bills, limitations on future earnings
(ex. inability to work full-time due to attention deficits), and chronic pain.
If your child (or you) suffered a head injury during soccer or another
sport and you suspect the organization, its rules/policies, or its personnel
contributed to the injury, s/he may be entitled to compensation. Call
our Northwest Florida sports injury law firm to discuss a potential claim.
As is often true, a personal injury suit in this field can provide compensation
and can also lead to positive changes that protect others from future harm.
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