Banning head shots in youth soccer

Reported by: Erik Avanier
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Updated: 8/28/2014 6:39 pm
CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee(WDEF) - A federal class action lawsuit filed in California by soccer moms and former professional soccer players could soon lead to a nation-wide ban on head shots by young children.

When it comes to youth soccer and head injures associated with the sport, Dr. Stephen Cromer of UT Erlanger told WDEF that  one thing is certain.

"Soccer is right up there with American football for the highest number of concussions," Cromer said.

Preventing long term brain damage from concussions is why the Federal International Football Association or FIFA along with U.S. based youth soccer associations are being sued. Plaintiffs in the case want a ban on head shots by players younger than 14-years of age.

Dr. Cromer says many kids that young don't have the strength and coordination in their upper extremities so they may be predisposed to concussions.

"We also don't really think that it's necessarily the number of times that they hit the ball with their head but it's those significant blows."

North River Soccer Association President Mark Harrison told WDEF his players are not introduce to head shots until their much older and for a very good reason.

"You're better prepared. A little bit more athletic and more mature. By the time you're able to follow the ball with your eyes; even then we introduce it incrementally," Harrison said.

Leslie Bennett is the owner of Soccer Shots; a program that teaches soccer to kids 2-8 years of age. Heading in her program is already a no-no.

"Frankly we don't consider it necessary. At this agent teach children how to be proficient with their feet. They don't need to use their hands and so why take an unnecessary risk which obviously with all the news, it's is a risk. So we don't teach children ages two through eight how to head the ball and we won't. We're against it," Bennett said.

Perhaps there's another bit of reality when it comes to children and sports.

"Kids are going to get concussions when they play sports. That's just part of sports. The concussion problem is not going away," Cromer said.
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