Rugby League Or AFL For A 13 Year Old

AFL

Following the recent incidents with my son, I thought about letting him play a sport he likes. I decided to be more open about it and never to judge what he chooses in the end. But you know how most mothers are these days – don’t we ever get worried seeing our kids injure themselves? The thought that they have to go to a hospital to have stitches or not being able to go to school because they need to heal? I just don’t want to get my son hurt when he is participating in a sport. But if I deprive him of what he wants, will I be making things worse? Maybe being on a team with his peers is just what he needs.

So I asked him about what kind of sport he wants to play – I know he likes to watch basketball, but my mind went blank when he said he wanted to play rugby league. A few boys his age at school play rugby league, but isn’t football kind of a dangerous sport for kids? I have seen videos about accidents with football, and they are even amongst the veterans. It wasn’t a good one to watch. But then, this almost always happens to every aggressive sport like football.

I did my own research regarding whether I should let my son join the local rugby team. He said that he really likes football, so as a parent, I need to find out if it’s as dangerous a sport as it seems.

I found a site that compares the pros and cons of letting kids join football. I read the disadvantages first so that I can balance it out well with the advantages later on. The one that took my attention right away is that kids are exposed to concussions, meaning that they are at a high risk. According to this article, rugby league players sustain 40 injuries per 1000 hours of playing and most of them are ligament and joint injuries, which is very similar to soccer. However,  head injury is a very obvious risk that kids face when they play rugby unlike soccer. Some of these injuries, too, according to the doctors can have long lasting effects on the kids. While short term effects of concussions only creates a few bits of problem with the memory, vomiting, nausea and confusion, the repeated concussions over time can cause brain damage. Even just a single concussion can cause long-lasting issues which makes me hesitant to let my son join the rugby league team.

So, I started looking into AFL and being from Melbourne it’s what I know and love. I couldn’t find the same injury rate data to compare directly to rugby league, but I did find this report (http://www.abc.net.au/cm/lb/5546126/data/afl-injury-report-2010-data.pdf) which shows the types of injury and how common they are. The most common injury is hamstring strain, followed by groin strain and ankle sprain. I’d feel a lot better about him playing AFL than rugby league.

AFL is very popular up here in Darwin but I don’t think my son had really considered it. I know a few parents of boys in the local AFL team who I think would be a good influence. I know I can’t just tell him he can’t play rugby, so I’ve been watching the AFL matches on TV (go Hawks!) to try and spark some interest in him… seems to be working!

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