Knee Pains

Yesterday Oldest One came home and said she hurt her knee again, but she didn’t know how.  She was limping, so I had her sit on the couch with an ice pack, take Advil, and then I served her dinner.  This morning she hobbled up the stairs crying to Husband and I that it hurt, she couldn’t walk, and she was very upset about possibly not tumbling, and she just can’t miss cheer.

Knee injuries are nothing new in my house, and judging by the number of knee braces I see at competitions, they are common to cheer.  Oldest One has a knee brace for her right knee, and Little One for her left.  It does help to find them during competitions.

I don’t take the knee issues lightly.  Oldest One is on Advil every 6 hours with Tylenol for pain, she is wearing her brace, and she was told to ice it several times during the day (the office at school has ice they’ll give her).  I also told her that she needs to not tumble the next few days, and that since the cheer gym will be closed for two weeks during the holidays she’ll have a chance to rest it.

The first time Oldest One hurt her knee during her second year of competitive cheer (always the right one) was when she did a toe touch and her knee cap went out, then back in.  She was unable to do much for about a month and a half.  She was a flyer at the time, so I had figured if she got hurt, it would be from being dropped.  I’m happy to say that at least when I saw her go up in the air she was never dropped.  Last year she came out of her tumbling pass at practice in the wrong spot, and when her feet hit the mirrored wall it caused a sprain, a bone bruise, and general stress to the knee.  Her knee swelled to about three times its normal size and she was on crutches.  I had to have her coach threaten her with not competing when she was well to keep her on the darn crutches.  I bought her various colors/designs of duct tape and she blinged her crutches out.  She was out for about 2 months.

Little One hurt her knee a couple of summers ago, no idea how, so we just sat her out and had her watch since summer is about conditioning.  Then this spring she kept complaining about her knee again (always the left one), so Husband took her to the doctor.  Besides the fact she has a huge gap at the growth plate (uncommon for most 13 year olds, but not either of my kids) she has her Dad’s overly large muscles, and she wasn’t warming up enough (for her muscles) so she was dragging her knee cap out of place.  Knee brace for her, and she was taught extra exercises to get her muscles warmed up.  She still wears her brace for support, since she hasn’t started her growth spurt yet.  She’ll be 14 next month, but Oldest One didn’t really start to grow until 14, and she is over 5’7” now.

Am I worried about cheerleading messing their knees up forever?  Well, not really, because unfortunately these things are a risk with any sport, and when the girls are hurt we don’t rush them back, or say they need to be out there and working through the pain.  I’ve seen that happen.  We make them mad and have them sit out until they are ready, so that they aren’t partially healed going back out to hurt it even more.  Oldest One is barely swelled right now and we are still taking all the precautions to protect her knee. Also, I never did any kind of sports, and I have all sorts of back and arthritis issues, so I’d rather see them active and having fun, with a chance of knee problems, rather than trying to cover them in bubble wrap and then see they have knee issues as adults, without having had any of the good times to cause it.

Being a Good Sport – Not

Husband was telling me about a friend’s friend who coaches a football league in town.  The team (we’ll call it Team F) made it to the playoffs out of state, and played a team that had gone undefeated for several years, and happened to be supported by a celebrity.  Team F beat this team.  When the game ended and it was time for teams to form lines and slap/shake hands, the Celebrity Team refused.  As Team F was leaving to get on the bus the parents from Celebrity Team were calling them names I’m not going to repeat and screaming they were going to kill them.

Bravo to this celebrity for fostering this type of sportsmanship.  Bravo to the coaches and parents for showing these kids how to lose gracefully, and how to be respectful and professional.  I always enjoy seeing good role models out in the world.

Team F had the same thing happen to them in the championship game, which they won.  No celebrity was involved, but more inappropriate name calling and threats.  I think it is sad that this is considered common practice in many places.

Our school football team played a team last year and this year whose parents seem to follow the rules of rudeness.  Last year I was asked to go with another Mom and sit in the visiting section because they were harassing our cheerleaders – one of whom was mine.  We just went, and smiled, and had a presence.  They quit bothering the girls once we sat down.  This year their coach kept yelling inappropriate things at our cheerleaders (new school property, still figuring out where everyone needed to stand), and the parents were still rude.  I’ve heard that between the administration’s complaints and the parent complaints we won’t be playing that team again.

People need to understand that kids take their cues from what the adults around them are doing.  If they see those adults yelling inappropriate names and threats, they’ll think it is okay, and they’ll do it too.  But, if the adults do what they should, and they act appropriate and don’t say bad things about or to the other team, the kids will instead model that behavior.

Big as sports for kids have become, parents need to step up and do what is right.  Yes, we pay a lot of money for our kids to do these sports, and of course we want to see them win.  But not everyone can win, and losing needs to be done gracefully, and without inappropriate language and behavior.  When my girls teams don’t place well in a competition we don’t start screaming at and harassing the judges – even when we don’t agree with how it turned out.  Instead, we try hard to ask them if they had fun, and how they feel about it.  Sometimes we slip and say we feel they were short changed, but that is after we have left the competition, and we aren’t rude to anyone competing or judging.

Losing is a part of life.  Not easy, not fun, but it happens to everyone at some point.  I’d prefer my girls understand how to handle it in an appropriate manner, instead of screaming obscenities and threats.  It’s a lot easier to lose and be nice about it, and then go on with life in a happy frame of mind, instead of being angry and accusing, and dwelling on it for longer than it took to play the game.