One of the principle concerns a parent considers when their son expresses an interest in playing AOYF youth football with his friends is the potential for injuries. Parents feel it’s safer for their son to wait until high school to start playing football. Though we certainly understand a parents concern for safety here’s some data and expert perspective for you to consider. Statistically, according to SAFE KIDS USA 2001 published injury data, among athletes ages 5 to 14, 15 percent of basketball players, 28 percent of football players, 22 percent of soccer players and 25 percent of baseball players have been injured while playing their respective youth sport. The data compiled suggests youth football participation does NOT preclude a higher statistically relevant incidence of injuries as compared to soccer and baseball. Most parents do not hold their son back until high school for playing baseball or soccer. Youth football participation should receive the same consideration as published data reveals youth football is as safe as baseball and soccer. Additionally, the athlete who starts playing football for the first time as a 9th grader is now in a competitive situation against other 9th graders from other high schools who have had 1 – 5 years of youth football experience and thus the first time participant is at a significant disadvantage.
Agoura Oak Park Youth Football players are grouped according to age and weight to avoid physical mismatches. There are special playing rules designed to avoid high risk situations. Significant improvements in equipment, equipment certification and coaching techniques, as well as an emphasis on proper conditioning and an increase in injury avoidance awareness have minimized the risk of injury to young players. This position is supported by sports medicine experts, among them Dr. Lyle Micheli, doctor of sports medicine and past president of the American College of Sports Medicine. Dr. Micheli states, in his book Sportswise: A Essential Guide for Young Athletes, Parents and Coaches, “In Pop Warner football, which is for children below the age of fourteen, injuries are very rare because the quality of supervision is very high.” Dr. Micheli goes on to say, “On the other hand, soccer, which has a reputation for being a safe sport for both sexes, has been shown to have a high injury rate, particularly among the younger children.”
Should you have any questions or additonal concerns regarding potential injuries and your son wanting to participate but you are not sure, feel free to email one of the league’s board members and they will contact you promptly. Board member contacts can be found on the ABOUT US tab.