• Peter Miller

SGG #112: Dr. Julie Stamm: The Brain on Youth Sports


The Sport and the Growing Good podcast examines the stories of leaders who aim to improve lives and communities through sports.

Julie Stamm is a faculty member in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her book, The Brain on Youth Sports: The Science, the Myths, and the Future, makes a major contribution to the broader field of concussion research. Dr. Stamm continues to conduct cutting-edge research and will make a major positive impact on the field with her scholarship and multi-dimensional perspective. In this SGG episode, we discussed:

1. Growing up a 3-sport athlete in Mosinee, Wisconsin.

2. The role and impact of sports in Mosinee.

3. Playing against Candace Parker at a Chicago basketball camp.

4. Her pathway to becoming a researcher and scientist…including being impacted by one young athlete’s concussion.

5. How being an athlete shapes her approach to research.

6. Understanding what concussions are.

7. Peaks and plateaus in brain development intersecting with sports experiences: “There’s a lot going on in that 8-12 (year old) range…And that’s also a time when lots of kids are getting started in sports.”

8. The multiple forms of “repetitive impact.”

9. The impacts of repetitive impacts…even those that don’t result in concussion symptoms. “These hits aren’t without consequence even though we don’t see it right away.”

10. Myth: contact sports impacts aren’t as bad in youth sports. The “bobblehead effect” and the number of impacts.

11. Hits per event are similar in youth and high school football.

12. Why she wrote the book. And why she wrote it in an accessible fashion.

13. Bad argument: Contact sports are safe enough. “Is safer than ever safe enough?”

14. The limits of helmets. “No helmet will prevent concussions.”

15. Myth: You have to hit/play the way the pros do in order to make it to college and/or the pros. (not true!)

16. “At the younger ages we should promote having fun in sports.”

17. Flaws in common “toughness arguments.”

18. How we can best communicate about and implement important research on concussion in youth sports.

19. The role of coaches in changing culture around safer contact sports.

20. Her ongoing research projects.