Kids Can’t — And Shouldn’t — Be Heading Soccer Balls

In what should not come as much of a surprise, Matt Lauer and the rest of the Today crew do not seem especially educated about medicine in particular or head injuries in general. Granted, parent company NBC Universal – Comcast has spent billions of dollars acquiring arguably the highest profile NFL broadcasts of all time. The NFL will, of course, for the conceivable future, be embroiled in a series of lawsuits concerning their handling of the injuries to players resulting from multiple concussions, and whatever other scandals pop up in the interim. Still, Lauer is paid just $20M annually, so it’s hard to see why anyone would expect him to know what he’s talking about.

But the fact is that the US Soccer Association, which this month banned striking the soccer ball with one’s head — headers — over concussion fears, is doing the right thing. Research has shown, time and time again, that while traumatic, “severe” concussions have long-term effects on the human brain, especially in young children, it is the small, repetitive “bumps” that so often result in the disease known as CTE.There is no 100% safe way to hit the soccer ball with one’s head, is the point of all this, and yes critics will say that there is no 100% safe way to do anything, especially in sports. It’s true. But concussions are difficult to detect, and deadly, and their consequences often last far beyond the removal of a cast. Most adults, including those on TV, don’t seem to have the capacity to understand that distinction, so how can we expect children to?