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Not playing sports may be "more harmful to kids long-term than a concussion"

Reed Hoelscher, Alec Jordan

Huffington Post

Participation numbers in football across the country, at all levels, was down more than 5% based on data in 2012, according to a CBS report from October of last year. The report also states that participation in soccer (7%), baseball (7%) and basketball (8%) is down even more than football, and experts are attributing the decline to the concussion panic caused by the media.

It's an epidemic we've all witnessed first hand as coaches, but after a conversation earlier today with a colleague, some interesting information was brought to my attention based on that CBS report.

According to doctors, pulling kids out of sports based on concussion fears can actually be "more harmful to kids long-term than a concussion," (notice that says "a concussion" and not "concussions"). The report states that the risk for inactive kids is greater than the danger of harm for concussions. One doctor (Marc Difazio, a child neurologist at the Children's National Medical Center in Rockville, MD) even went as far as to point out that there is no definitive evidence that a single concussion causes any long-term damage.

“There’s really no good evidence to suggest that a child, after a single concussion, is at any significant risk for long term effects,” New York University Langone Medical Center’s Director of Neurophysiology Dr. William Barr told CBS.

"If somebody says 'I like playing soccer, but my mother and father are worried that I am going to get a concussion so therefore I'm going to chose not to play soccer,' that is a tragedy" Difazio went on to add.

While everyone agrees that kids should be pulled from play immediately after suffering a concussion, or concussion like symptoms, the doctors in the study point to exercise benefits like lowering the risk of obesity and heart disease and benefits of exercise on brain development and learning as the driving force behind their findings.

The CBS report, picked up by USA Football - which partners with safety conscious Heads Up Football, can be read in it's entirety here.