Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

Greg Peck: Will rising interest in soccer lead to more concussions?

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Greg Peck
Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I admit, the craze over soccer hasn't hit me as it has so many Americans as World Cup competition winds down. Yes, I started my journalism career as a sports writer decades ago, but I can't name one player on the U.S. team that missed reaching the quarterfinals in Brazil. A sport needs more scoring to hold my interest. That's why I found the surge in soccer interest among friends and co-workers surprising.

I suspect that interest will translate into more kids taking up the sport in coming years.

Is that a good thing? It depends.

The risk of concussions in football has been big news lately. In today's Gazette, The Associated Press says a federal judge has granted preliminary approval of a landmark deal to compensate thousands of former NFL players for concussion-related claims. The deal will cost the league hundreds of millions of dollars. Last month, the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association unveiled new rules limiting contact during high school football practices to help reduce concussion risks.

Concussions also can plague soccer players. I blogged about this subject two years ago. I did so after watching a frightening report  by NBC's “Rock Center” news program about girls playing soccer. Resulting concussions were already part of a nationwide epidemic, the report suggested. NBC told of Allison Kasacavage, then 15, who after suffering at least five concussions could only attend school four hours per day. Her bedroom had soft blue lighting to ease her headaches. Her family ate dinner by candlelight. She's among hundreds of girls nationwide who have suffered concussions while playing soccer, NBC said.

Maybe soccer is a great sport that finally will catch on with fans here in America. Perhaps parents, however, should consider that NBC report before sending their kids out on the soccer fields.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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