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Mom Mondays: Sidelined by Suffering


How does your child feel when they are forced to sit out a game due to injury or illness? How do you feel when your child is forced to sit out a game due to injury or illness? In last week’s post, I wrote about dealing with disappointments in hockey. Certainly one of the biggest disappointments endured by players is being forced to sit out a game against their wants and wishes. And it’s certainly something hockey moms dread too.

If you subscribe to the impression given by hockey analysts, and the banter of Don Cherry himself, the toughness of hockey players is unmatched anywhere else in sports. Heaven knows the endless memes on social media do their part in reinforcing this reputation. It’s hard for some of this influence not to rub off on young hockey players. My children have been lucky, being relatively healthy and injury-free (there, I’ve gone and jinxed it now!). I’m also accused by my kids of being overprotective. I’m probably not the only mother accused of this and it doesn’t seem to be a good character trait for the mother of three hockey players!

There are times when kids simply should not be in the game, on the ice or in the dressing room. I guess I’m not the only hockey mom who’s scoffed and said, “Oh, who doesn’t have a cold in the winter? It’s just a sniffle!” and that would be the truth. I know my kids could tough it out but do I really want my child to be the reason a nasty cold, flu or virus is passed through the dressing room and affecting all their teammates?

Then there was that time I got a call from my son’s midget hockey coach asking how he was doing. How he was doing? What did he mean, how he was doing? Apparently he’d been hit in the head by a puck. Hit hard in the head. The coach was following up on his health, and I didn’t even know about the hit. Not exactly the overprotective mother, was I?! He played the game and barely complained afterward except to say his ear was ringing. Later that evening, he had a headache. Later the next day, he was dizzy. Very soon thereafter, we were sitting in the waiting room of our local medical clinic. Concussion. A mild one, thankfully ,and no further treatment was necessary following the concussion protocol followed by the doctor on duty. It was agreed by all that he wouldn’t play again until he was twenty-four hours asymptomatic. This was an instance where coach, player and parent all agreed.

Yet it was reported recently that former football player Matt Dunnigan stated at a coroner’s inquest into the death of high school rugby player Rowan Stringer that that it takes “courage and strength to tell a coach about a head injury” suggesting athletes are reluctant to do so.

And it’s Rowan’s mother Kathleen who is advocating more education to be provided not just to coaches and parents, but to the athletes themselves in an effort to educate them about Second Impact Syndrome. If a player sustains a second head injury before the first is healed, the results can be catastrophic—as if the results of a concussion aren’t already. It appears very clear now that educating just parents and coaches has fallen tragically short of providing our young athletes with the courage they need to seek medical attention, or at the very least, some guidance and support when they may be suffering from a concussion. It’s easier for a mom to see when her child is in discomfort but her words of warning may fall on deaf ears to a very determined young athlete. These kids need to hear the risks from many different angles. We know now that continuing to play while recovering from a concussion is a serious no-no.

When illness or injury affects our players, we all try strike a fine balance between ‘Mother Knows Best’ and ‘You Make the Call’ and ‘Coach Says No.’ Aiming some truth at the players, rather than just coaches and parents, may not result in fewer concussions given the nature of some of these sports, but will hopefully result in better recovery and fewer secondary concerns down the road—or ice.

Of course, none of this applies to the hockey mom, right? We all know that when a hockey mom is sick or injured, there is no debate at all—she will always get her player to the arena!

Three cheers for all the players out there recovering from concussions—and for the hockey moms, coaches and healthcare practitioners looking out for them!

Tags: minor hockey

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