Monday, July 07, 2014

Soccer "heading" and brain injury



Soccer can be merely boring for a lot of us, but it can cause serious brain injury to players and pose special dangers for children. Many parents encourage their children to play soccer, seeing it as a game that's safer and with less physical impact than football. 

Of course children can be injured playing any sport, but "headers" in soccer are an important part of the game. Seems like a bad idea to encourage children to risk brain injury by the cumulative effect of repeated headers.

I also object to encouraging children to ride bikes, which has long been an important part of childhood for many children. We now know that riding a bike is one of the most dangerous things a child can do, which makes it irresponsible of City Hall and the Bicycle Coalition to encourage children to ride bikes on city streets.

But then the city is in denial in general about the dangers of cycling for everyone, not just children, since there has still been little official reaction to that 2012 UC study that found there has been a significant under-count of cycling accidents in San Francisco. 

The MTA's Ed Reiskin has acknowledged that the city is aware of the study and is apparently grappling with its implications, which is presumably why the city hasn't released a Collisions Report since August, 2012.

The concussion issue is here to stay, as both the NHL and the NFL are struggling to deal with it. How can parents and schools continue to encourage children to play hockey and football---and even soccer---in light of our growing understanding of brain injury?

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