GateHouse — Well, the chances are pretty good that if you’re the type of person who is moved to reflection by the headline “Pediatricians put the kibosh on boxing for kids,” you are already PRETTY WELL IMMERSED in the world of boxing for kids.
This is the sort of headline that only a country where half of the Major Presidential Candidates are still wobbly on this confusing “science” situation would require, the sort of news that’s news only if your daily planner includes the words “Nancy Grace” in pink bubble lettering, yet here we are: Last week the American Academy of Pediatrics and its Canadian counterpart, Rush, issued a joint report that came out against the sport of boxing for children and adolescents. Reasons included: a high risk of injury, potential for possible concussions and Listening To The Instincts Burned Deep Within The DNA Of Every Human Alive Over Millions Of Years Of Evolution.
The groups jointly wrote that parents should instead encourage sports that “do not encourage intentional head injuries,” which is the sort of thing that you really can’t be expected to know unless you’re told it by a group of scientists from Canada. The report will be issued in the October issue of Are You F—ing Kidding Me With This.
So of course here’s the part where I tie this story with my extended family, somehow: There is a picture, somewhere in the attic buried under the stack of old newspapers and all kinds of animals, of my uncles Jim and Don, at the age of about 3, boxing in a ring in northwest Indiana. Now I say “boxing in a ring” like it was a bit of scrappy playground fun, but THIS WAS IN A LARGE PROFESSIONAL-LOOKING “ROCKY II”-TYPE RING IN FRONT OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE. PEOPLE WHO PAID REAL MONEY. Also my grandfather was the referee. (Listen, there was not a lot of entertainment options in northwest Indiana in the 1930s. Basically it was either kid-boxing, budget pierogi making or playing Count The Soup Line.) So toddler boxing goes way back in my family, which is not something we talk about much at the ol’ Thanksgiving table, frankly.
The report goes on to note that there are other sports that involve heads running, bumping and/or careening into things, sports such as football, hockey and some of the livelier forms of cheerleading. But, they note, boxing is different because it involves routinely hitting children in the head, hard, with fists.
For some reason it’s hard to locate reliable data on kid-boxing injuries, scientists say, probably because when you take your 6-year-old into the hospital with a boxing-related injury you are probably not going to say, “Hey, look at my 6-year-old with a boxing-related injury!” You will very likely come up with something more culturally palatable, such as “tractor problem” or “fell off the goat.” But Canadian hospitals, which, remember, have to let in everybody due to some ludicrous “national health-care program” say that boxing was the most like to lead to injuries, again probably because of how it involves repeatedly punching children in the head.
The story I am reading through a darkening veil of sadness includes a quote from Anthony Bartkowski, executive director of USA Boxing, the governing group for amateur boxing in the U.S. Bartkowski wrote: “The skills and traits young boxers learn help prepare them for life in and out of the boxing ring … as with any sport, there is risk involved, however the positives developed by participation in youth sports, including amateur boxing, outweigh the potential risk.”
TRUTH! So let’s say you were sending your kid to a summer camp in let’s just say South America, a camp where they would be guaranteed, every day, to be pummeled by other kids and maybe adults, but they were learning teambuilding. HOW CAN THIS NOT MAKE SENSE. I wonder if I can get a side job refereeing.