Pint-Size Football Players Are Taking Big-League Hits

Kids who play football make — and take — hits to the head just as hard as any high school, college or NFL player. That’s what the data show; it’s not partisan, it’s not political and it’s not trying to suck the fun out of recreational sports. Journalist Stone Phillips delved into never-before-conducted research by Virgina Tech that could have a long-lasting impact on how little kids suit up for football.

Phillips’ report is scheduled to air on Monday’s NewsHour, but you can get a sneak peek right here. Make sure to join us Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET below for a follow up chat.

(Click the source “PBS” below to view the chat)

When I was growing up, it was called pee-wee league or Pop Warnerfootball, and the image I remember is of kids with helmets too big for their heads running around like bobblehead dolls banging into each other. They looked so awkward, in part because their neck and chest muscles hadn’t developed fully enough to support their heads and the extra gear. Another thing not fully developed is the brain. That means some of the self-preservation instincts of not hitting head-first — and even the techniques of safer tackling — are not yet hard-wired into these tiny athletes. As mentioned in Phillips’ piece, the research shows more helmet-to-helmet contact in this age group than in high school or college.

Technological advances like adding accelerometers inside helmets is not new; in fact, if a sideline doctor can get a page every time a player takes an exceptionally hard hit to the head, I imagine parents will receive alerts on their smartphones someday soon advising them to check on their star player after a big hit.

Phillips stopped by the newsroom the other day, and we talked about what led him to do this story and what the research uncovered.

(Click the source “PBS” below to view the video)

StonePhillipsReports has more resources, including links to helmet rankings and programs designed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help coaches and athletes watch out for concussions.



Our lives changed when David suffered his third concussion. It was the district final in soccer against our rival high school and my freshman had just gone into the biggest game of his life.  After he had head to head contact, he kept playing the rest of the game and attended club practice the next day.  After the practice he collapsed and we all realized something was wrong. David had a concussion and proceeded to have post concussion symptoms for more than three months. After educating ourselves on the dangers of second impact syndrome and the dangers of going back to activity too soon, David decided to speak out and help educate his community on traumatic brain injuries.  He started at his school, then he spoke to all the PE teachers, trainers and athletic directors in Miami-Dade County.  He even raised the funds so that all of the public high school students could have baseline and post concussion testing for the next four years.

But David did not stop at there.   David traveled to the state capitol four times to speak to Representatives and Senators to explain why their support was needed and why we needed to pass legislation.  “My experience of passing youth concussion legislation was interesting, frustrating, and rewarding. My Dad tells me that I have received a civics lesson like no other. I learned an incredible amount about the political process, the incredible amount of work it takes to pass a bill, the importance of networking and establishing connections, and the devotion to the cause that is required to drive legislation into a law. I endured a lot of stress, worry, and disappointment over the last year and a half, whether it be from fretting over the bill’s four day stall in the Senate Budget Committee this year or the failure to pass the bill a year ago,” explains David.
“In the end, a sweet victory with unanimous votes on the House and Senate Floors was achieved.  The legislation’s passing means that youth athletes will be out of the game and under expert care when they are injured, so that they can get back to the game safely. I supported this legislation so that kids do not have to suffer the way that I did from my concussions.” said David.   It was great to be on the same team as the NFL who also worked hard to see that this legislation was supported and passed.  It was extremely important to have strong bill sponsors, Sen. Anitere Flores and Rep. Ronald Renuart, who worked hard to ensure that special interest groups did not derail the bill while preserving a good return to play scenario and that the bill was on the agenda for the needed committee hearings and eventually voted on before the end of the legislative session.  We are elated that Governor Rick Scott will sign this bill in the next couple of weeks.

By: Cheryl and David Goldstein

Good Work Senator – Miami Herald Letter to Editor  by David Goldstein 3/15/12

Good Work Senator – Miami Herald Letter to Editor by David Goldstein 3/15/12

State Sen. Anitere Flores successfully steered SB256/HB291 through the Legislature one year after a similar bill was defeated. She demonstrated commitment and perseverance in pushing legislation that promotes awareness of the dangers of concussion to youth athletes.

It specifies that an athlete must sit out when there’s a head injury and establishes who can determine when the athlete can return to play. It was refreshing to see agendas set aside and the health and wellbeing of Florida’s children put first with unanimous approvals in the House and the Senate.

David Goldstein, student, Ransom Everglades School, Coconut Grove

Blog Update

WE DID IT!!! After a year and a half of hard work and perseverance, the Youth Concussion Legislation unanimously passed through the Florida Senate and House of Representatives! All Florida youth athletes will now be better protected from concussions. Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me through my concussions, my work as a concussion awareness advocate, and the legislative process. We could not have done it without you, and we are so happy and relieved! A special thank you to Senator Anitere Flores and Representative Ronald “Doc” Renuart for their sponsorship of the bill and the tremendous amount of effort they put forth in order to get it passed. Another special thank you to Kenneth Edmonds of the NFL, who represented the league’s support of the legislation throughout the legislative process.



TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Legislature today unanimously passed a bill that will help prevent head injuries among student athletes in Florida. Sponsored by Senator Anitere Flores, R-Miami, the bill passed unanimously from the Senate and will now be sent to Governor Rick Scott for the opportunity to be signed into law. Educating youth athletes, coaches and parents about the warning signs for concussions, Senate Bill 256 aims to protect injured athletes from getting back into the game too soon.

“I heard personally from concerned constituents about the lack of awareness regarding head injuries and the proper precautions,” said Flores. “All too often, athletes get back in the game without fully considering their injuries and the potential for long-term cognitive deficits. I am very proud of the strides that were made today to help protect Florida’s student athletes and am thankful for the broad support from both sides of the aisle.”
Traumatic brain injuries occur when a player receives a major blow to the head that causes the brain to slam against the skull, resulting in soft tissue injury and cell death. Often, there is a second injury as the brain rebounds against the opposite side of the skull. These injuries can occur in a variety of sports’ games, tryouts and practices, including football, volleyball, baseball, lacrosse and cheerleading. According to the Center for Injury Research and Policy, of the approximately 140,000 high school athletes who suffer concussions each year in the United States, more than 40 percent return to play before properly recovering. Such head injuries can have profound effects on children with developing brains. In extreme cases, injuries can even lead to death.
Currently, at least 30 other states have adopted legislation similar to Flores’ bill, which is supported by the National Football League and the National Collegiate Athletic Association. SB 256 will educate parents, student athletes and coaches on the risk and identification of brain injuries. It also authorizes the Florida High School Athletic Association and coaches’ associations to create rules for removing student athletes when brain injuries occur, and it establishes a policy to return players back to play after their recovery with the authorization of a doctor.
Seventeen-year-old Miami-Dade County resident David Goldstein and his parents, Adam and Cheryl Goldstein, were among the advocates who came to Tallahassee this session to advocate in support of the bill. David suffered a serious head injury in 2010 when he collided with another soccer player during the district finals for his school team. He knew immediately that something was not right, but he stayed in the game. In the days that followed, David exhibited flu-like symptoms followed by weeks without improvement. The Goldstein family went through months of medical consultations before identifying the proper treatment. Today, David is wise to the potential risks, wears protective headgear and knows how to identify the warning signs of traumatic brain injuries. He has also become an advocate for athlete education and concussion testing at local public schools in his area.
“David’s example resonates because this scary situation could happen to any player and any parent of a student athlete,” added Flores. “Without being educated about the potential risks, parents are simply unaware of the symptoms their child might be experiencing. SB 256 will help individuals assess these situations and provide the proper care.”’
To track the progress of this and other bills moving through the legislative process, visit