If you're the parent of an athlete, you know that injuries are unavoidable if your child plays contact sports. And kids are constantly exposed to flu bugs and colds that circulate around schools, which can potentially sideline them for a while.

If you're the parent of an athlete, you know that injuries are unavoidable if your child plays contact sports. And kids are constantly exposed to flu bugs and colds that circulate around schools, which can potentially sideline them for a while.

Fortunately, most kids are pretty candid about needing time off from sports because of injury or illness, but some try to hide ailments from coaches and parents so they can continue to play. Playing when sick can exacerbate illnesses, leaving kids even more at risk for future problems.

So why would a child want to hide an injury or illness?
He may fear looking weak to the rest of the team by not being able to "suck it up" and continue playing. She may feel that if she takes time off, she might lose her starting position. He may feel that the injury or illness is not that bad and doesn't tell anyone. She might fear losing the connection to friends on the team if put on the injured list. He may think he will lose opportunities for college coaches to see him in action, thus squandering opportunities to someday play at the college level.
Kids hide injuries and illnesses for many reasons, and while in some cases it's nothing to worry about, not treating more serious ailments, like a torn ACL or H1N1 flu, can turn tragic.

It is important that you keep a close eye on your child if you feel something isn't right, and ask questions if you have any suspicions. As an adult, you know that the reasons kids may not tell you or a coach about an injury or illness are sometimes irrational, but for kids, their fears are very real.

Be sure to keep an open dialog, pay attention to unusual behavior, and ask questions if you feel your child may be hiding her pain and discomfort to keep playing her sport.