Soccer Champs and Concussion Experts Nix Heading for Players under 14

June 26th, 2014

by Bria Price, Young D.C. Reporter

The game of soccer is a beautiful art, especially when footwork skills are up to par. But some techniques that are good to score that winning goal can be damaging. Heading the ball is a special move, fascinating to watch when it’s performed correctly. Wednesday, June 25, neurological experts and soccer pros released their recommendation that kids should not practice heading until high school. They launched PASS, Parents and Pros for Safer Soccer, an organization that will encourage love of the sport, while educating about the dangers of heading.

“As a professional, and now a parent and coach, I believe that the benefits of developing heading skills as children are not worth the thousands of additional concussions that youth soccer players will suffer. As a parent, I won’t allow my children to head the ball before high school, and as a coach I would prefer my players had focused solely on foot skills as they develop their love of the game. I believe this change will create better and safer soccer,” said Brandy Chastain, a two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup champion and winner of Olympic gold (996) and silver (2000) medals. Her Olympic teammates Joy Fawcett and Cindy Parlow Cone are also working with PASS.

Many parents and some coaches aren’t aware of the effects of heading. The technique can cause brain-sloshing effects that could hinder a child later in life. When an 11- or 14-ounce ball comes in contact with the head at high speed, it creates enough force to damage nerves and give the player a minor concussion. Practice sessions might involve drills with dozens of chances to head the ball. Each time the ball makes an impact on the player’s head.

“Studies show that at least 30 percent of concussions in soccer are caused by heading a ball or attempting to head a ball and colliding with another player, and evidence is mounting from studies of boxers and football players that the younger one is exposed to repetitive brain trauma, the greater the risk of later life consequences. I have been forced to retire far too many young athletes with post-concussion syndrome due to having suffered multiple concussions prior to high school, and this is a clear opportunity to make soccer safer without hurting the game,” said Robert Cantu, MD. Dr. Cantu is a neurosurgeon, concussion expert and a founding member of the Sports Legacy Institute. SLI is a PASS partner, as is the Santa Clara University Institute of Sports Law and Ethics. Both organizations are involved with concussion research and advocacy.

Keep up with the PASS campaign through #SaferSoccer or by visiting

Bria Price, 18, is a rising senior at Cesar Chavez PCHS in the District of Columbia.


May 29th, 2012

Sunday’s game was amazing. The Nats played the Braves in the last game of a May 25-27 series, and the Nats had already won the first two.

Gio Gonzalez was pitching and the Nats were looking good. The Braves scored in the first and third, and led 2-0 until the top of the fourth when Jesus Flores hit an RBI single to bring Adam La Roche home. Then Gonzalez brought Ian Desmond home with a sacrifice fly to tie the game.

The Nats pulled ahead at the top of the sixth when Flores hit a ground ball base hit to second. In the same inning three more runs scored, Nats crushing 6-2. Nats finish up with a homer by Bryce Harper at the top of the eighth. It feels so good to see the Nats pull off a sweep with such style.

Nats improve record with Phillies; still no sweep

May 24th, 2012

The Washington Nationals win in division play against the Phllies, but have yet to sweep them. The Nats have played two series–six games–against Philadelphia this season and won four.

May 21 the Washington Nationals played the Philadelphia Phillies in the first of a three-games series on the Phillies home turf. Top of the second with the Nats up to bat, Ian Desmond hit a line drive over center field for the first run. Then in the top of the third, Jesus Flores tried to steal home off a wild pitch. Sadly he was tagged out; still a 1-0 game. Top of the fourth inning, Desmond hit an RBI single batting in Bryce Harper: 2-0. Bottom of the sixth, the Phillies got close to scoring but the Nats pull off a double play. Bottom of the ninth, the Phillies scored a run, but relief pitcher Sean Burnett shut them down ending the game with the Washington Nationals winning 2 to 1. The Nats had fantastic pitching by Gio Gonzales who struck out seven of the first nine Phillies he faced. The Nats showed some good defense work.

May 22, the Nats were dominating 4-1 at the top of the third. Then center fielder Rick Ankiel hit a homer in the fourth. It was a rare victory over Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay who had been beating our franchise since the Nats were the Expos based in Montreal.

Wednesday, May 23, there was no fallout from the May 6 hardball between Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels and Nats rookie Bryce Harper. In that first Phillies-Nats series of the season, Hamels put Harper on base by hitting him with a pitch and Harper stole home. At their May 26 meeting, Harper had three at bats. He hit a single in the sixth after Danny Espinosa had ended Hamels’ hitless innings. Harper also had a clear—but too short—shot to the outfield off Hamels. Ultimately the Phillies won, 4-1.

The Washington Nationals are looking great this year but haven’t managed to sweep most teams yet. With their injury list growing the future for the Nationals is both blurry and bright. But at least for May 21 and 22, we can put a big curly W in the scorebooks. Washington Nationals’ fans and enthusiasts should keep the Nat-itude ignited because we have yet to sweep the rival Phillies. As long as we keep wining I’m not complaining but a sweep would be nice.

Nationals defang Diamondbacks

May 3rd, 2012

May 2, the Nats played the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Nats were leading in the third inning, but starting pitcher Edwin Jackson gave up two runs in the fourth. Bryce Harper, the Nats’ 19-year-old rookie left fielder, hit a standup double to bring runners home.

After that, Jackson squandered the 3-2 lead in the sixth. The D-backs scored two runs and it was looking like we might lose this one.

In the ninth, Ian Desmond stepped up to bat with a man on second. His walk-off homer soared over left center field giving the Nats the 5-4 win to end a five-game slide.

Baseball, Episode One by Chidiki Jones-Whitley

May 1st, 2012

I’ve never liked sports but there was always one that I was willing to tolerate and even play. Baseball is known as America’s pastime but among some teens, it’s known as a boring sport. That point made me reluctant to start following it, but I decided to immerse myself in baseball this season.
I want to know about the teams, how it’s played, and general facts about the game. It’s been a little over four weeks and I am hooked. I’ve been following the Washington Nationals and I have to say it’s been fun. The Nats were a laughing stock among baseball fans the first few seasons after moving here from Montreal. They have been turning up the heat, and this season they have as the fans like to say “Ignited their Nat-itude.” The Nationals are the best team in Major League Baseball right now with 14 wins and only eight losses. And that is with many of good players injured, including Ryan Zimmerman, Michael Morse, Chris Marrero, Drew Storen, Chien-Ming Wang, and Cole Kimball.

Conquering the rules for baseball is a lengthy proses that I am still working on. Baseball has been around since the 19th century and, therefore, has collected a plethora of traditions mixed with rules. For instance, the home team lets the visiting team bat first. The pitcher faces each batter trying to get him to make three strikes at the ball. Three strikes and the batter is out. After three batters are out, the teams switch places.
The field is shaped like a diamond. Home plate is where the batter starts and the three bases advance counter clockwise. The fair play area then spreads beyond the diamond into an outfield. If the home team is on the defensive, three players are scattered in right field, center field and left field. The batter’s goal is to make it back to home plate. When he reaches home, his team receives a point. To get home, the batter hits the pitched ball with his bat and runs the bases in the correct order. The opposing team tries to stop the batter from reaching home. If a hit ball is caught before it touches the ground, the batter is out. If the ball hits the ground any defending player can pick it up and tag the batter (or the base he is running toward, but this gets complicated).

April 20, I was able to go to a Nats game and it was amazing. The game is so much easier to follow when you actually know what’s going on. Also, I was surprised at the speed of the game–before I knew it, the game was over. In person, the innings run smoothly. Music and videos play between innings, not to mention a race between Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Teddy Roosevelt. The only reason baseball games seem long on TV is that commercials take up a good chunk of time. I’m excited to see what I’ll discover next in the world of baseball.

Opportunity to relaunch SportsLog

September 1st, 2011

SportsLog founder Andrew Polowitz is now a freshman in college and ready to hand over his creation to new sports bloggers.
YDC is looking for a SportsLog editor and a stable of reporters who will cover the local sports scene with game recaps, profiles and opinion.
Teens who are interested in these positions should write to Christina Lee, YDC’s acting managing editor, at