Monday, November 24, 2014

How the Detroit Lions Celebrate Thanksgiving

For over seven decades, the Detroit Lions have played a regular-season game on Thanksgiving Day, which has made the team as much a part of Thanksgiving as the turkey itself.  

The tradition is, in fact, older than 24 current NFL franchises.

But few are probably aware of how the Detroit Lions celebrate their Thanksgiving.

When it’s your job to play on the national stage, a properly seasoned bird, cranberry sauce, and other trimmings kind of have to take a back seat.

My husband knows about this all too well because he played his entire NFL career with the Detroit Lions.

As a former Lions offensive lineman from 1991 through 1996, he’s played six Thanksgiving Day games, so who better to put on the hot seat than him?

Sure, times have changed since then.

Most notably, the Lions now play in Ford Field instead of the Pontiac Silverdome. 

But here are a few random facts about this unique NFL tradition during the era of former Detroit Lions head coach Wayne Fontes:

·         Following a short Wednesday “dress rehearsal” practice, the team as a whole would break bread together during a luncheon that featured a traditional Thanksgiving menu.

·         During the week leading up to the Thanksgiving game, Lions legends from season’s past were invited to share their Thanksgiving game day stories and words of wisdom with the current team.

·         The day before Thanksgiving is deemed media day in which the network broadcasting the game that year would interview the players about what the game means to them. The interviews would then be broadcast throughout the game.

·         Now this one is cruel: A few days before the game, the veteran players pull the mother of all pranks on poor, unsuspecting rookies. The veteran player of each position would send the rookies to a local supermarket to fetch turkeys for every player on the team, under the guise that the store was giving the turkeys away for free. When the rookies arrive, they would realize that it was all a prank. In lieu of free turkeys, the rookies would discover a laughing store manager and members of the media with video cameras.

·         During the team meeting on the eve of the Thanksgiving, the team would meet privately and reflect on the current season, give thanks, and express gratitude.

·         The MVP of the Thanksgiving Day game would be awarded a real turkey leg – ripped straight from a cooked bird. In 1989 former NFL coach and longtime football commentator John Madden spearheaded this tradition, known as the Thanksgiving Day award.

·         Tuesday is generally deemed a day off in the NFL, but the Tuesday before Thanksgiving is a full-blown practice day for the Detroit Lions.

·         Following the game, Lions players would be off for the rest of the week and would report back to practice the following Monday. Many players would use that time to travel and be with loved ones. (This applied to my husband, whose entire family resides in New Jersey.)

As a native Michigander, I’ve had the good fortune of attending a few Lions Thanksgiving Day games, but my most memorable experience – as far as football and Thanksgiving goes – happened during my junior year in high school in 1993: Here in Michigan, the varsity football state championship game takes place the day after Thanksgiving. And that year, my John Glenn Rockets took on the Fordson High Tractors – in the same stadium, the Silverdome, where the Lions played one day prior.

We lost, yes, but making it to The Big Dance was reason enough to celebrate. And besides, the Rockets gave it their all so they had nothing to be ashamed of.

You may recall I recently blogged about attending my high school’s homecoming football game – twenty years post-graduation.

Well, on the heels of that game, I chatted with John Glenn Varsity Football Assistant Coach John Garrett about the team’s plans for this Thanksgiving. Predictably, he said everything hinges on two scenarios: Making it through playoffs…or not.

“That week is significant to almost every team around,” says Coach Garrett. “Almost every coach plans to spend Thanksgiving with their team – particularly because the state finals are the next day. That’s your ultimate goal.”

But, unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be: A few weeks after Coach Garrett rendered the statement above, the Rockets lost their Division 1 district playoff semifinal against the Saline Hornets 41-6.

Now, I’m simply waiting to watch my Lions.

And, of course, to devour one heck of a dinner afterward.

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! And please be sure to stop by the blog (between your helpings of turkey and stuffing) for a fun and festive holiday giveaway we will be launching that day!  In the meantime, click here to check out our existing holiday giveaways!

If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- 
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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Back by Popular Demand: Ashwater Soap Co.

Allow me to begin this post by reiterating my feelings about Ashwater Soap Co.:

Their handmade soaps are unbelievably luxurious (with an incredibly fresh aroma to match); their customer service is unrivaled; and they only use the finest ingredients to craft their all-natural soaps.

And if that isn't enough to sell you on what Ashwater is all about, there's this -- the details regarding the source of their palm oil -- in their own words:

"We too are very concerned about this irresponsible harvesting of palm oil to the detriment of the environment. We use organic "RSPO Sustainable" palm oil. RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) is the authoritative voice in the field, and they have certified that the oil that we use is harvested sustainably. This is the site from which we get our organic RSPO Sustainable Palm Oil , and this site describes the RSPO sustainable certification process."

I'm telling you, folks, if you deem yourself a soap snob like me -- we only use sulfate-free soap products in this house -- then you will love these soaps.

You may recall that we hosted our first Ashwater Soap Co. giveaway back in September (you can read it here), and based on the entries alone, I know that many of you share our family's love of good, quality soaps, so we wanted to host a second giveaway -- this time featuring Ashwater's Christmas bar (pictured above), which, like all Ashwater soaps, is all-natural. Their Christmas bar is unique, however, in that it features a fruity, spicy scent.

The lucky winner of this giveaway will win FOUR (4) bars of Ashwater Soap Co.'s Christmas soap.

This giveaway will run until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, November 30, 2014. 
Thank you for participating, and good luck!

Click here to check out the other holiday giveaways we're hosting!

Disclaimer: All opinions are 100% of yours truly.

A NOTE ABOUT MY POST SCHEDULE: Between blogging for the NFL, USA Football, and wiping the noses and behinds of two little ones, I have decided that it is in the best interest of my sanity (and this blog) to dial back a bit. Therefore, I will now publish new posts here 
every Monday and Thursday, come rain or shine. 
(And I'm Type-A, so you know you can hold me to this.) 
Thanks for your understanding. xo 
If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- 
The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Monday, November 17, 2014

What if your child had a stroke in the fourth grade?

You read correctly.

Fourth grade.

It happened to Erica Singleton, 35, of southeastern Michigan.

But she doesn't want your pitty.

Nor does she need it.

Erica is doing far more to better her health than a lot of us, as a matter of fact, and we would all do well to take a page from her book.

More on that in a moment.

Allow me to set the stage first...

So tis the season to eat, indulge, and splurge to our heart's (and taste buds') content.

And less than two months from now, we will literally be bombarded with commercials for gym memberships, juicers, and everything else that can help create a leaner, meaner -- healthier -- version of ourselves.

But here's a novel idea: What if we could get on the good foot right now so that when the New Year rolls around, we'll be where we want to be health-wise instead of making plans to get there.

That's precisely what the American Heart Association's Better U Challenge is designed to do: The 12-week challenge, which concludes January 24, aims to improve participants' heart health through various exercise classes and educational workshops. Better U initiative is a joint venture between AHA and St. John Providence Health System.

I'm delighted to have been chosen by the American Heart Association to serve as one of their 2015 Go Red for Women bloggers, and this post is my first in a series that will feature stories meant to motivate, educate, and, ultimately, help all of us become our very best.

And few stories can inspire us like Erica's. She recently joined the Better U program to lose weight and strengthen her arm movement. 

I had the great fortune of meeting Erica in person recently -- she and I are pictured above with Melissa Thrasher (left), the Communications Director of the American Heart Association's Midwest Affiliate (Erica is on the right); and I can tell you two things: One, Erica is one of the most positive people I have ever had the pleasure of conversing with; and two, she is committed to this challenge. Here is her journey -- in her own words:

1.       I cannot even begin to imagine what it must have been like to endure all that you have. Briefly explain the extent of the physical damage you incurred due to the stroke.
I still have limited range of motion in my right arm; I’ve had seven surgeries on my right foot – and I still have drop foot. I actually live in heels because it’s easier for me to walk. Also, my muscles just tense up out of nowhere sometimes. And with regards to the muscles in my face, my smile is corrected now, but before my smile was a little twisted. I love to smile, I’m a very happy person, and I’ve always been a big smiler. I’ve always wanted to keep that part of me.

2.       I’m sure that what you went through emotionally was arguably just as bad – if not worse, no?
I can still remember it like it was yesterday – and it was particularly difficult because I knew what life was like when I was just like everybody else. I could remember what it felt like to ride a bike, climb trees, etc…I got lonely; I was sad; and I was definitely angry. There’s a feeling of being trapped inside your own body because you know what you want to do, but your body won’t participate. But, emotionally…it was very hard to make friends – I was 10 years old! I still don’t know anyone who has had a stroke at that age. I had no one to talk to; no one to confide in. I could go to groups and talk to older people – the typical people one would expect to have a stroke. But there was no one that I could actually communicate with, and talk about school to…I was so alone. But there was a bit of self-growth that had to happen. Your self-esteem and self-worth have to be rebuilt.

3.       How did you become familiar with the Better U challenge, and what inspired you to sign on?
I filled out a survey from the American Heart Association online, and they asked what I wanted to get involved in, and I told them I was a survivor – and then I was invited to share my story. And then Melissa [Melissa Thrasher, who serves as Communications Director of the American Heart Association, Midwest Affiliate] told me about the challenge, I submitted my documents, and here we are.

4.       Talk about your journey thus far…do you feel like you’re on a different path now?
I definitely am: Now, the first thing I want to do is go for a run – I don’t care how cold it is; I don’t care how wet it is; I don’t care if my hair gets ruined. I just want to run! And I want to make sure breakfast, lunch, and dinner are planned. That is a big difference for me because I’ve never really planned those meals. I put more thought into what I eat, how I eat it, and what times of the day I eat it.

5.       What do you anticipate will be your greatest source of strength and support during this 12-week journey?
The fact that I’ll fit back into my clothing – that’s always a plus! And also that, through the platform of the American Heart Association, I can let other people know that if I can do it, anyone can do it. Eighty percent of strokes are preventable – and I don’t think anyone should have to go through this alone.

6.       What do you ultimately hope to achieve from participating in this challenge?
One of my personal goals is to help the world realize that a stroke can happen at any point in life, and it’s not just something that is reserved for the elderly. And I hope to bring awareness to the fact that if it happens, you can beat it. If you know the symptoms and signs, you can easily save somebody’s life.

7.       What is your message to others, to those who may be on the fence about committing to this challenge?
It can only get better. And there’s no better time than right now. By committing to this challenge, it’ll benefit you so much, it’ll impact so much of your life – it has already done that for me. We are stronger than we think we are.


Better U challenge applicants are encouraged to take a short assessment here to receive their starting heart score and then register online here and select ‘Go Red’ for access to free classes and personal improvement sessions with life coaches and health experts.  

The American Heart Association recommends incorporating a balanced diet and obtaining at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week to improve heart health. 

Along the way, individuals are encouraged to post their before and new-me-in-progress photos using the hashtag #MIBetterU on Twitter or Facebook

Click here to check out the holiday giveaways we're hosting!

A NOTE ABOUT MY POST SCHEDULE: Between blogging for the NFL, USA Football, and wiping the noses and behinds of two little ones, I have decided that it is in the best interest of my sanity (and this blog) to dial back a bit. Therefore, I will now publish new posts here 
every Monday and Thursday, come rain or shine. 
(And I'm Type-A, so you know you can hold me to this.) 
Thanks for your understanding. xo 
If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- 
The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The 7 Stages of Facebook "Likes" Addiction


Aren't they what Facebook is all about?

I mean, really. It's not like we have this burning desire to broadcast to the world today's to-do list, a photo of Aunt Mebel's rump roast, or the fact that little Susie possesses the innate talent to snort a Cheerio through her nose.

Okay, some people are overtaken by a burning desire to broadcast such information.

But for the vast majority of us, it's not these things that matter, per se: It's the validation and attention we receive for posting them.

And it's kinda addictive.

Which, when you think about it, is silly and scary at the same time.

Here are The 7 Stages of Facebook "Likes" Addiction:

1. Occurrence
Alright. First things first: Whether you just took some cookies out of the oven or you just hopped aboard a hayride, before something can be elevated to Facebook post status, it has to happen in the first place. 

2. Inspiration 
Because we now live in a time where we post even the most mundane occurrence the mili-second after it's happened, this stage often happens before we consciously know it. In the case of the freshly-baked chocolate cookies, we might get the urge to post a picture of them before the aroma even filters to the living room.

3. Expectation 
This stage actually commences before we hit the post button: It is the little voice inside our head -- the expectation -- that whatever it is that we will post will not only garner the attention of our friends and followers, but that they will also care enough about it to "like" it.

4. Postation
No, it's not a real word. And, yes, I totally made it up. Postation is the act of posting our words or comments onto our Facebook page. This stage has been known to be accompanied by a bevy of emotions, ranging from pride to euphoria.

5. Anticipation
After something has inspired you to post -- and you've done so -- the only thing left to do is wait for "likes" to come rolling in. Or so we hope.

6. Denial
This stage can go one of two ways and can basically be summarized by the following sentiments:
What?!? I can't believe it. Ten "likes" in TWO minutes? Damn, this post is killin' it!! 
You feel amazing. 
What?!? I can't believe it. Only one "like"? It's been FIVE WHOLE MINUTES
You feel like ish.
A few minutes later, the aforementioned thought is followed closely by...
Only ONE more "like"??? Even the pic Dan posted of his dead parrot got seven!

7. Dénouement
Like the definition of the word itself, the dénouement stage is the final resolution. The outcome. The end of the road for this particular post. And like #6, this phase is also like A Tale of Two Cities because it can either be fantastic or f-ed up, which, of course, is determined by the number of likes. If your post has attracted a ton, then, hooray for you, you're probably busy counting them like Monopoly play money or, if your post is really overachieving, you're replying to comments.
But if you're still throwing shade over the fact that you've been trumped by Dan's dead parrot, you might feel like kicking your cat. And if you don't have a cat, you may be depressed enough to buy one solely for that purpose.

But in a matter of minutes, you'll cut your losses with this post and look forward to something else happening, which will set the vicious cycle into motion all over again.

Happy Facebooking!

And if you're overcome with the sudden urge to like something -- anything -- you may start by clicking here to like The Brown Girl with Long Hair on Facebook. (Yeah, shameless plug; flame away.)

A NOTE ABOUT MY POST SCHEDULE: Between blogging for the NFL, USA Football, and wiping the noses and behinds of two little ones, I have decided that it is in the best interest of my sanity (and this blog) to dial back a bit. Therefore, effective next Monday, November 17, 
I will now publish new posts here every Monday and Thursday, come rain or shine. 
(And I'm Type-A, so you know you can hold me to this.) 
Thanks for your understanding. xo

Check out the awesome giveaways we've got going on at the moment, including one for 
a Thanksgiving turkey, and another for two FREE tickets to an NFL game!!
Click here to enter one giveaway...or all of them.
If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- 
The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Monday, November 10, 2014

Kid Calculator: How much is your kid costing you?

You've probably heard it all before: The cost of raising a child from birth to age 18 -- in this day and age -- is somewhere around the $240,000 mark.

But that's bull$*t.

It's more. 

A lot more.

Sure, that list factors in Carter's onesies when they're babies, trips to McDonald's when they're in elementary school, and piano lessons when they're in middle school.

But, oh, there's So. Much. More. to consider:

What if your child is a "problem child"?

What if they're abnormally messy?

And what about the cost of those home repairs? Read: broken windows, busted lampshades, and other damage that Little Johnny is bound to create with his aluminum bat.

Finally, we've got a way to come up with a more realistic tally.

The fine folks at Cash Store have developed a Kid Calculator that we should all try out for a spin.

And as if the calculator alone isn't enough, it also gives us the option to create an invoice for our child.

It works like this:

Then move on to this:

That's it!

Scotty is only three, and Kennedy is only one, but rest assured. I'm not letting any grass grow under their feet. 

Scott and I will be issuing these invoices in yearly installments, you know, to give our children plenty of time to pool their allowances and establish a payment plan. (We'll accept cash or check only.)

In fact, Scotty will find his first invoice next to his Fruit Loops this morning, and Kennedy will find hers on her highchair -- right next to her YoToddler Yogurt and Fiber One.

So how much are your kids costing you?

Check out the awesome giveaways we've got going on at the moment, including one for a Thanksgiving turkey, and another for two FREE tickets to an NFL game.
Click here to enter one giveaway...or both of them.
If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- 
The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Friday, November 7, 2014

Toys That Grow On Trees

Despite my seeing absolutely nothing wrong with going to the end of the earth in order to achieve a salon-grade blowout...

Despite my lust for designer handbags...

Despite all my other vices that I totally concede to being on the shallow and/or narcissistic side...

I am crunchy.

Not I-don't-wear-deodorant crunchy.

Although if that's your thing, I'm totally not judging.


But I still fit in the crunchy-ish category. (Here's my first post on this topic, if you need a refresher.)

And this post topic definitely qualifies: I LOVE wooden toys.

They are everywhere in this house.

I can't walk through the kids' rooms without busting my toe on one of them.

And this is one of my absolute faves -- The Michigan Baby Teether by Little Sapling Toys:

And this teether is available in the shapes of other states, too.

I bought this back in 2012 for Scotty, actually, and as you can see in the photo of Kennedy above (taken when she was about seven months old), it's still going strong. 

Today the teether looks brand new, just like the day it was delivered, with nary a nick. 

These teethers are handcrafted with hard rock maple, a non-splintering wood, and are naturally anti-bacterial, non-allergenic, and non-toxic. 

All Little Sapling teething toys are sanded satin smooth with no exterior finish.

It was only 12 bucks, which you can't beat with a stick.

And just so you know, this was not a sponsored post.

I featured this item on my own accord because I think it's the bee's knees.

Check out the awesome giveaways we've got going on at the moment, including one for a Thanksgiving turkey, another for two FREE tickets to an NFL game,
and another for personalized labels.
Click here to enter one giveaway...or all of them.

If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- 
The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The time I saw Kid Rock & chased his girlfriend

When people see auto show models, they see the designer outfits, the shiny cars, and the admiring car buffs and think it's a cushy gig.

And, for the most part, it is. 

But there is a downside.

Like, say, when it's 9:47 p.m. on a Tuesday and the convention center is about to close, the crowd is sparse at best, and you're about to die of boredom. 

And that is where this story begins. 

I'm standing behind the information desk of the Jaguar display at the North American International Auto Show in January of 2007. 

I look up and see Kid Rock and his then-girlfriend Tamara Mellon perusing the Volvos across the aisle.

I thought I was seeing things. I know Kid Rock is from Detroit. But he's at the auto show? On a Tuesday night?


It can't be him.

I squint. I look closer.

But it is him.

And Tamara Mellon is hanging on his arm. And on is every word.

Do you know who she is?

Here's a closer look:

She's surrounded by shoes because, at the time, she was the Chief Creative Officer and co-founder of Jimmy Choo, which are arguably the best designer shoes in the game.

And therein lies my fascination with her.

The thought of being this close to the shoe maven nearly makes me weak in the knees. (Kid Rock who?)

So I did what any loyal Jimmy Choo fan would do: I chased after them.

Correction: I chased after Tamara.

My feet hurt like hell after standing on them in pointy toe stilettos for eight hours straight, but, to my complete and utter surprise, I run up on her in a New York minute.


She turns around and smiles at me like I'm a lost puppy. Not in a condescending way. But in a oh-my-goodness-it-looks-like-this-girl-is-gonna-cry kind of way.

Looking back, I'm ashamed to say that I did probably look like I was going to cry.

"Yes?" she says in her British accent.

"I'm Jimmy Choo's biggest fan. I LOVE your shoes."

Kid looks from me to her and back to me again in disbelief. He's obviously flabbergasted that I could give a hoot about him. Although his mouth is wide open, he says nothing.

I want to memorialize this moment. But a photo is out of the question: my cell phone is tucked inside my purse...which is in the trunk of the XJR sadan that is spinning on the turntable.

Plan B: "Can I have your autograph?" I hand over to Tamara the only thing I can -- my clipboard which contains a stack of questionnaires.

Tamara lights up. "Sure."

I thank her, say bye to Kid, turn on my heel, and make my way back to the Jaguar display.

And that was that.

Here's Tamara's John Hancock:

And just to show that I wasn't lying about it being on the back of a Jaguar questionnaire:

I swear, I used to keep this piece of paper in a red ceramic frame adorned with Swarovski crystals.

Then I had my son.

And I put his photo in it instead:

Because, you know, priorities.

I still love me some Jimmy Choo, though.

And so does my son. I left my shoes by the door one afternoon, and, come to find, Scotty had used them as a slide for his Little People:
I told Scotty that I love him to the moon and back, but, so help me God, if I find that he uses my Jimmy Choos as a makeshift slide again, his Little People will be sleeping with the fishes.

Check out the awesome giveaways we've got going on at the moment, including one for a Thanksgiving turkey, another for two FREE tickets to an NFL game,
and another for personalized labels.
Click here to enter one giveaway...or all of them.

If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- 
The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Monday, November 3, 2014

NFL ROUND TABLE: Kids, Sports & Concussions

It's everywhere you turn: it safe to play?

As I've stated in one of my previous blog posts, football has become the proverbial poster child of late when it comes to concussions. And misinformation about this topic abounds. 

In this age of instant access to information, moms everywhere are doing what has seemingly become natural: taking to a search engine to find answers.

Hey, I'm not bashing here. I do the same thing. 

Just the other day I Googled if evening primrose oil is safe to consume while nursing, but I should have chosen to consult my physician before taking the word of some unknown Web site.

And the same goes for contact sports and concussions.

Did you know that the number one cause of concussions among youth is bike riding?

Gym and recess are a close second.

But we rarely, if ever, hear a parent say, "I'm not letting my child participate in gym or recess, oh, and I'm taking their bike away...just to be safe."

But the aforementioned refrain has become common when it comes to football.

Here's the thing: It's no secret that, as an NFL wife and a blogger for both the NFL and USA Football, I support the notion of children engaging in youth football, particularly if the program follows the safety guidelines that have been established by USA Football. 

But please allow me to state for the record that this post was not written to convince parents to allow their child to play football.

If a parent learns the facts and decides that football -- or any contact sport, for that matter -- is still not for their child, I respect that.

What makes me uncomfortable, however, is when parents are not properly informed, and stand firm in their decision anyway.

I recently had the immense pleasure of sitting in on an NFL Skype chat led by Elizabeth Pieroth, PsyD, ABPP, a mother of three and a board certified neuropsychologist and associate director of the Sports Concussion Program at NorthShore University HealthSystem in Illinois, and Chris Golic, also a mother of three and a member of the Heads Up Football Advisory Committee and national spokesperson for USA Football’s Protection Tour. She is also the wife of Mike Golic, a former NFL defensive lineman and the current co-host of ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike. (In addition to having our involvement with USA Football in common, both of our husbands worked together several years ago on NutriSystem's NFL Get Back in the Game campaign.)

Here are a few highlights of our discussion which revolved around concussion safety awareness...

Where can parents learn more information on football safety and concussion awareness?
In addition to, many might be surprised to know that the Center for Disease Control  is also a fantastic resource, which also provides mass quantities of information (i.e pamphlets) upon request. Additional reliable sites include Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, and NFL Evolution.

What are the symptoms and signs of a concussion, and what's the difference between the two?
Signs are what an onlooker (i.e. parent or coach) observes, while symptoms are what the athlete himself experiences. Signs include: Being slow to respond, wobbling, not remembering things, and a change in personality; the latter is not often talked about, but is a huge red flag that something is wrong. Symptoms include: Dizziness, blurred vision, being bothered by light and/or sound, and headaches. What's important to note here, however, is that headaches can also be caused by a myriad of things, including dehydration and neck pain -- neck pain that may not be caused by a concussion.

How do other sports handle concussions? 
Concussions are capable of happening in a variety of sports, not just football. In fact, according to the CDC, concussions can occur in any sport or recreation activity. But one NFL blogger who participated in this chat stated that, with regard to her son's football team, clear-cut protocols have been put in place with regard to what is done if it is believed that a player has suffered a concussion. But she noticed that, on the other hand, the same couldn't be said for her daughter's cheerleading squad. Therefore, Dr. Pieroth stressed that it is important for parents to be proactive: Inquire about concussion protocols and discuss concussion awareness with all of your children's coaches -- before anything happens.

Fact: Concussion Laws have been established for all 50 states.
Beginning in 2009, the state of Washington passed the first concussion in sports law, and one month later, the second passed in Oregon. Between 2009 and 2013, all 50 states, and the District of Columbia, passed laws on concussions in sports for youth and/or high school athletes. These are often called Return to Play laws.
Most concussion in sports laws include three action steps: 
  1. Educate Coaches, Parents, and Athletes: Inform and educate coaches, athletes, and their parents and guardians about concussion through training and/or a concussion information sheet.
  2. Remove Athlete from Play: An athlete who is believed to have a concussion is to be removed from play right away.
  3. Obtain Permission to Return to Play: An athlete can only return to play or practice after at least 24 hours and with permission from a health care professional.
For more information on these laws, click here.

When is it safe for a child to make the switch from flag football to tackle football?
Dr. Pieroth explained that "the research simply isn't there," so there's no one-size-fits-all reply to that answer. "We just don't know yet," she said. She went on to say that it basically boils down to what parents and players are comfortable with, because "comfort level with regard to risk is extremely personal." For starters, a child's size is one factor to consider -- but not for the reason one might think: For example, weight restrictions exist within youth football leagues so as to prevent an unfair advantage. Therefore, the impact a seven-year-old child might experience is in no way akin to the impact an NFL player would receive while playing. That said, playing football at any age requires that a child possess the proper neck strength to wear a helmet. (Pick up a helmet and see for yourself; they're quite heavy.)

What's the primary factor which influences a football team as a whole?
Golic tackled this question, and I absolutely loved her response: "The number one influence is how a coach approaches practice," she said. And this is why enrolling a youth football player into a USA Football Heads Up-certified program is so important: Both athletes and parents alike are educated on proper football techniques and protocols from the very beginning, and athletes and parents can have those same expectations all the way through high school because parents can be secure in the knowledge that safety is the top priority.

The benefits of allowing children to participate in athletics is innumerable.
Despite the risks, research has shown that youth who participate in sports are, not surprisingly, healthier and have a lower risk of obesity. But that is far from the only advantage. Said Golic, "Student athletes have lower rates of truancy and higher GPAs." And many believe these trends are likely to carry over into college, should participation in athletics continue. According to the National College Athletic Association (NCAA), nearly four out of five student-athletes earn their diplomas on time, an all-time high, and federal statistics show athletes are still more likely to graduate on time than other students.

So that, in a nutshell, is what we discussed during our first NFL Blogger Skype chat.

Stay-tuned for my next one.

You know I'll be blogging about it...

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