ED Weekly Report - Week of April 29, 2013

April 30, 2013, 1:06 p.m. (ET)

USA Field Hockey Weekly Report-Week of April 29, 2013

Here is something of interest regarding the growth of sport in the USA. The following article appeared in Monday’s edition of the Washington Post and provides some interesting information. In earlier weekly reports, our focus has been on the success we have had with our own developmental program FUNdamental Field Hockey and how we are expanding the program into a larger campaign called Grow the Game. Take a look at this as this article speaks of trends in sport development:

The Washington Post 

Published April 24, 2013

Wanna play catch?

With the longer days and warmer weather, lots of kids around Washington are asking that question. It used to be that they would grab their baseball gloves. Now, more kids are grabbing lacrosse sticks to play catch.

Lacrosse is the fastest-growing sport in America. But don’t take my word for it. I spoke to Tom Cove, the president of the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) in Silver Spring.

The SFIA is a group of more than 750 businesses, including Nike, Adidas and Russell Athletic, that make and sell sports equipment. Cove and the SFIA keep a close eye on how many people are playing sports. After all, those folks are not just athletes; they’re also customers.

Sports are a big deal for kids. Cove says that between 60 million and 70 million kids play organized sports in America. And lacrosse is a new favorite.

According to a 2012 study done by the SFIA and other business associations, participation in lacrosse went up between 2007 and 2011, soaring more than 29 percent in the last two years of the study.

Other sports are on the upswing, too. Ice hockey, field hockey and ultimate Frisbee have become more popular in the past couple of years. Gymnastics has also had a big jump. Cove says that usually happens after the Summer Olympics, where gymnastics competitions are a big deal.

Not every sport is growing. Wrestling is way down. The number of kids playing football, baseball and volleyball is going down, but more slowly. The popularity of soccer and basketball has leveled off. And, according to the 2012 study, kids are not skateboarding as much as they used to.

Of course, most kids don’t care which sport is popular. The most important sport is the one or two or three you like to play. I think it’s great that there are lots of different sports for kids to choose from.

If kids don’t like the most popular sports — basketball, baseball, soccer and football — they can play tennis or lacrosse or go swimming.

It’s important for kids to do something active. Physical education at school is valuable, too. The 2012 study shows that kids who participated in PE are much more likely to play sports and be active when they grow up.

So, run out and play catch. With a baseball or football or Frisbee or lacrosse ball.

And in another article featured in the most recent edition of Men’s Health, eight sports that are perceived to put kids’ brains on the line are revealed:

8 Most Dangerous Sports for Your Kids
by Bill Phillips and the Editors of Men's Health

Both of my daughters are avid soccer players, so this moment was inevitable. It just came much sooner than I expected. Last winter, indoor league. A teammate on my 10-year-old’s team blasted a shot from the corner. It bounced off a defender’s leg, and flew into the air. My daughter sprinted toward it, cocked her neck, and headed it into the goal. Her teammates celebrated with her. Hugs all around. I sighed. I knew what I’d be doing the rest of the day—pouring through concussion research.

The first thing I learned: I’m glad I had daughters, and they don’t want to play football. Studies suggest that about 67,000 high school football players are diagnosed with concussions each year. Recent work says that number could be way low: Half of high school footballers surveyed in a 2012 study said they’d felt concussion symptoms in the past, but hadn’t reported them.

The youngest players have the oldest equipment and least experienced coaches, says Brent Masel, M.D., medical director of the Brain Injury Association of America. And their brains are particularly vulnerable to trauma because neurons aren’t fully sheathed in myelin—a protective covering of cells. In other words, their brain cells are like telephone wires without any protective coating.

Makes a dad wonder: Are my kids at risk? Are yours? Below are eight sports that put kids' brains on the front lines.


When Boston University researchers autopsied the brains of 85 athletes (including NFL, college, and high school football players) with histories of concussions, they found 80 percent showed evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease linked to dementia and death. The damage starts earlier, though: A Virginia Tech and Wake Forest study of seven youth football players found that the average player sustains 107 head impacts in nine practices and four games. And the hits are hard—some similar in magnitude to those that college players face, the researchers say.


According to a recent CBC Sports tally, 88 NHL players missed 1,697 games because of concussions in the 2011-12 season—but being checked into the boards at a young age is just as dangerous. A March 2013 study in PLOS ONE found that ice hockey was to blame for nearly half of the almost 13,000 sports-related brain injuries that sent kids to the E.R.

Pole Vaulting

“As a sport, track is low risk for concussions—pole vaulters, though, are at high, high risk,” says Robert Cantu, M.D., and co-director of Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy. Land anywhere but where you’re supposed to—which happens a lot—and you’re in prime position for a head injury, he says.


After studying the brains of 12 soccer players with an average age of 19 who never suffered a concussion but regularly headed the ball, Harvard Medical School researchers found potentially damaging changes in the areas of the brain responsible for memory and higher-level thinking in the soccer players.


The American Association of Neurological Surgeons reports that more sports-related head injuries in 2009 occurred on bicycles than on football, baseball, and softball fields combined.


Third only to football and hockey, boy’s lacrosse is known for high concussion rates, according to study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine. And while helmet-to-helmet collisions are always a danger, some experts believe the girls’ heads are at even more risk. Why? They don’t wear helmets. Girls also have weaker necks than boys—and research has suggested females take longer to bounce back from head injuries than their male counterparts.

Baseball & Softball

If your kid’s a pitcher, you’re probably nervous. But the majority of disastrous injuries in baseball don’t come from being hit by a ball, says Dr. Cantu. They happen when sliding headfirst into a base. Hitting someone’s leg—or worse, a catcher’s shin guard—puts young players at high risk for concussions, he says.


Cheerleading is generally a low risk activity for concussions, but one girl is at astronomical risk: the flyer, says Dr. Cantu. Being thrown 20 feet in the air, only to leave your fate up to those below, sends your risk for catastrophic head and spine injuries through the roof, he says.

Note that field hockey is not perceived to be a danger sport. This is really good news as we think our rule creation is high quality and does contribute to the safety within hockey. Plus, a big component that demonstrates hockey safety is that our insurance loss-run history is minimal. Insurance claims are always a reliable measure.

Conan: “A new study came out that shows that the germiest place in your kitchen is the refrigerator's vegetable drawer. After hearing this, most Americans said, “We have a vegetable drawer?"

Have a great week!

Steve Locke
Executive Director