Monday, December 08, 2014

Can soccer be saved?

In yesterday's SF Examiner:

Heading in soccer: Is it worth the risk?

Dr. Kevin R. Stone

...In soccer, there's the added risk of injury when heading the ball. A 16-ounce soccer ball traveling at up to 50 mph smacks the head deliberately and repeatedly. How often? In a range of 32 to 5,400 times per player per season according to a study of amateur soccer players by Lipton et al Radiology. The brain changes detected by MRI were not subtle, nor would you expect them to be.

Why is it that the fun and satisfaction of participating in sports overwhelms our recognition that they could significantly destroy our body, be it the knee or the brain. The answer, I believe, is that as athletes we just can't comprehend the impact of the damage. We don't understand that sports injuries build up and lead to arthritis, or that repetitive brain trauma gradually reduces our cognitive power. Either that, or we chose to ignore it, we feel invincible. Simply put, the fun outweighs our belief in the risk and, even if we acknowledge the risk, in many cases, we think it is worth it...

I've posted on this before. Soccer has long been favored by  parents as a less violent alternative to American football. My son played soccer a bit as a child, but he and his contemporaries were never developed or skillful enough to do headers, which is the most damaging part of the game as the kids get older and more coordinated.

The Cost of the Header in the New Yorker.



At 12:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Soccer is fun. Football is fun. There is a risk, those who decide it's worth it can participate.

You think soccer players are hoodwinked as to the dangers of their sport? That's nothing compared to how safe people believe traveling in a car is. Yet even those who know the dangers will drive, even on rainy days like today.

This is called "living". Try it some time.

You have a son? Someone agreed to spend their life with you and conceive a child?

At 12:51 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The post is really aimed at parents who seem to think soccer is less dangerous than American football. I recommend baseball and basketball as relatively risk-free team sports. And then there's track and field, tennis, golf, etc. There are a lot of sports that pose little risk of head injury to children in particular.

At 2:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I recommend baseball and basketball as relatively risk-free team sports" - baseball a sport in which someone throws a tightly spun ball at you at 90+ MPH.

At 3:50 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

But it's rare for a batter to be hit on the head and even rarer that it causes a concussion.


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