Weighing the Risks and Benefits of Youth Sports

I think sports are good for kids. I think there are lots and lots of studies that show--especially teenagers who are involved in sports-- especially teenage girls who are involved in sports have lower pregnancy rates, lower drug and alcohol rates, and less obesity. There are a lot of advantages to all types of sports, so I think we are--again, it's a risk/benefit. There are clearly risks to playing contact sports, but we can minimize the risks by wearing helmets all the time, by having coaches that are aware of the issues of concussion and making sure that we make it clear to children that sports are not the most important part of their lives. It's a lot different than in professional sports where this is their life, and to make sure that coaches in high school, middle school, elementary school feel the same way that most of the parents do-- that this is not a career, and so there should be very little injury that provokes taking a child out of contact sports. As we were saying before with the risk/benefit ratios, there's a lot of benefits to all kinds of sports, and so you don't want to tell children to stop playing sports because of the risk of concussion. So again, we have to just be as careful as we can with these sports. But recognizing that sports are good for a lot of kids for a lot of different reasons.

The benefit of sports for kids far outweigh the risks, especially if athletes, coaches, and parents realize sports are for fun and health, they are not a career.

See more videos with Dr. Rachel Berger.

Rachel Berger

Rachel Berger MD, MPH is part of the Child Advocacy Center at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and a member of the hospital’s Child Protection Team. She has been involved in the evaluation of thousands of children with suspected child abuse and neglect.

Posted on BrainLine January 9, 2013.

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough and Jared Schaubert, BrainLine, and Dan Edblom.