Injuries are a part of sports at any level. But at the youth sports level they aren't always taken as seriously as they should be. It's just youth sports, played by innocent children, right?
I often hear parents and coaches encouraging injured players to just "play through it," "tough it out," or "wait and you can rest over the summer."
But the reality is the injured player is already signed up for a summer league and several camps. So the amount of rest he will get after the season is practically none.
Young athletes can do severe damage to their bodies by trying to play through injuries that should be rested or treated.
As an example, arm soreness is common at this point in the baseball and softball seasons. And not just in pitchers, because remember, every single player on the field is asked to throw long and hard at some point during games, and even more often at practices.
The key is to determine if the soreness is just that and can be treated with rest, or if it's a sign of a more serious injury that might require a thorough intervention, such as therapy or even surgery.
There's only one way to find out -- ask a qualified trainer, physical therapist or physician.
He or she will help determine if the player needs to sit out a game or two, should sit the rest of the year and maybe even the summer, or if it's a more serious injury that requires extensive treatment.
Regardless of the test results and decisions made on the arm soreness, the first step of getting it evaluated is most important. Unfortunately, it's often the first step that is ignored by parents and players for fear of the outcome.
It's important to remember that a few games or a season lost is much better than the alternative of permanently damaging a body part at such a young age.
It takes a medical professional to determine the extent of and treatment for an injury. But it first takes a responsible parent's common sense to get the child that evaluation. No certification is required for common sense. And yet sometimes it's a lack of just that which turns what appears to be simple soreness into irreparable damage.
Jon Buzby's columns appear in newspapers and magazines around the country as well as numerous websites. Email your comments to email@example.com.