As soccer becomes more popular in the U.S., concussions increase

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COLUMBIA - All kinds of athletes competed in the Show-Me State Games Saturday. And while all athletes are at risk of injury, a recent study states the number of young soccer players suffering from concussions is on the rise.

More people in the United States started playing soccer over the past thirty years. One soccer team, SRSC, traveled from Fort Leonard Wood to compete in Columbia's Cosmo Park. The coach of SRSC, Tricia Cartwright, said she knows soccer has become more popular over the years.

"I know when [the members of the team] were playing when they were four and five, it was like 'They're playing soccer? Really? Why not football?'" Cartwright said. "Now it's like everyone's saying, 'Oh, you're playing football. Why not soccer?'"

The sport was introduced as a safer sport for kids.

"You don't worry about getting hurt," Cartwright said. "You just play."

The study states heading the ball is the most soccer-specific activity that led to the most concussions.

"Soccer is a header," Cartwright said. "You know, you head the ball a lot. It's going to happen, but just watch where you're heading them. And especially not near the goal because that's where concussions happen -- they hit their head on the pole."

A grandmother of a soccer player on the team, Shelley Sargent, said concussions in the sport are few and far between. 

"The kids feel that helmets would hinder their ability to play soccer," Sargent said. "Therefore, that's not an option against concussions and stuff like that." 

The most common way players got concussions was contact with another player. 

 

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