I was reading The Source, a quarterly publication from our county's library system, which is full of things to do for people of all ages. If there are various fun things to do for kids and teens, cultural events, projects and pursuits or anything else going on in Howard County, you will find it in this great periodical.
This past week, my wife read The Source and found out about a symposium called "Choose Civility" that caught her attention. The title of the program was "The Ball's In Your Court: Can Civility and Sports Coexist?" It happens to be a subject of great interest to me, and I immediately signed up to attend at the Miller Library on Oct. 9 starting at 6:30 p.m.
My interest in this topic took me to the East Columbia Branch Library on Cradlerock Way last week for more information on this symposium. I specifically wanted to know who was on the discussion panel. So, I met with Christie Lassen, the director of public relations. She informed me that they are always looking for a different topic every year, and chose civility, and more specifically civility and sports.
The members of the panel for this symposium are impressive. NPR's Korva Coleman and former Baltimore Colts player, and current minister and motivational speaker, Joe Ehrmann, head the lineup. Dr. Amanda Visek, assistant professor in the department of exercise science at George Washington University, and Mt Hebron High School's athletics and activities manager, Jeannie Prevosto, will join the discussion as well.
A Youth Empowerment Summit is also planned for the Miller Library on Oct. 7, where 10 students from each middle school will be brought together for a seminar on leadership. This gathering will then be brought into the discussion of civility in sports.
It is a wonderful opportunity to address the issues of sportsmanship, aggression and the need for teamwork, so that civility and sports hopefully can coexist. I have already put in my two cents on the subject in my columns.
The library system is part of a county alliance, which includes many sports organizations, and it is asking each member of that alliance and those not in the alliance to add one line to their existing code of conduct. They are not asking any organization to change its code if it has one, but rather to add this one line which reads simply: "As a member of Choose Sportsmanship, a component of 'Choose Civility Howard County,' we support respect for others, their roles, and their knowledge and expertise. All coaches, athletes, parents and spectators are responsible for and expected to exemplify civility."
FIFA under fire
It now appears that any sport where the head is involved in some type of collision with other players or with a ball is subject to a lawsuit due to the possibility of a concussion. Soccer's parent organization, FIFA, is now the subject of a lawsuit filed in federal court in San Francisco by soccer parents and players who claim that soccer organizations have not done enough to prevent head injuries — especially those caused by heading the ball.
As far as I know, heading has been an integral part of the sport of soccer since the game first started. The lawsuit accuses the soccer groups, which include the U.S. Soccer Federation among others, of negligence by not providing a medical monitoring system for the players, and for not doing enough to prevent concussions.
Soccer is by no means the first sport to be sued for similar reasons. The NFL, NHL and NCAA have faced lawsuits.
There is at least one report by some researchers that claims that heading the ball time and time again can cause some brain injury, but I have discovered for every report that says this, you can usually find one that says the opposite. It's impossible to know just how much of an impact heading the ball has had on players throughout the game of soccer, especially when many of these children are two and three-sport athletes.
The end result of this lawsuit can have a major impact on soccer, causing changes to the game as we now know it.