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Stop being a crybaby and just play already.

When our children head out to play sports, the pressure to win is quite intense, as a national survey reveals 59% of young athletes maintain they expect to get hurt as part of the game. What is even more surprising is that the kids polled indicate that coaches, teammates, and, in some oases, even their own parents have tried to make them play injured and even suggested they hurt another player. Some 69% of young athletes who were hurt explain that they continued to play hurt and half of them claim they hid their injuries so they could play.

The survey of boys and girls ages eight to 14 by the i9 Sports Association, Tampa, Fla., a national youth sports league franchise company, reveals:

* 63% report they have been hurt playing sports; 59% suggest it is part of the game and they expect it.

* 64% are afraid someone will hurt them while playing sports.

* 11% insist they were offered gifts or money to hurt another player.

* 81% of those who have been hurt point out that their teammates and friends have thought of them as tough, cool, a good player, or even a hero when they played hurt and "took one for the team."

* 42% of those injured recall that they were called foul names if they sat out while hurt--some by their own mom and dad. Names include wimp, crybaby, or mama's boy. Other names were given, but were too graphic to print.

* 29% admit they are secretly glad when a player on the other team gets hurt.

So, who is influencing the attitudes of these players?

* 34% think their coaches' priority is the win over safe play.

* 16% feel they or their teammates tried to hurt another player. When asked who gave them the idea, 57% indicate teammates; 23%, mom or dad; and 11%, coaches.

* Of the 37% of respondents who say someone made them or tried to make them play while hurt, 52% point to a teammate; 41%, a coach; and 35%, one of their parents.

"I'm concerned about the direction of youth sports," stresses neurosurgeon Robert Cantu, author of Concussion and Our Kids. "Over the past 20 years or so, it's all become so serious. Fun no longer seems to be the main object. Now it seems to be about grooming your child to be a star. It can be taken to extremes."

Adds sports journalist Mark Hyman, author of Until It Hurts: America's Obsession with Youth Sports, "Across the country, young players are all-too-frequent victims of a sports culture that's turning its back on them. With each passing season, youth sports seem to stray further and further from its core mission of providing healthy, safe, and character-building recreation for children."

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Title Annotation:YOUR LIFE
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2013
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