It's Not Just Football, All Sport Kills - But Should We Change It?


Contact sport has been making the news a lot lately due to something known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, better known as “CTE” (he says with a deep sigh of relief, knowing he’ll never have to write that mouthful again). This is a serious brain injury that is caused by repeat knocks to the head.

No matter how you look at it, it’s bad. I believe that 100%. I would never allow my child to play serious contact sports professionally as a result and I would also abstain myself, if I wasn’t so fat and lazy. But I’m going to play devil’s advocate for a moment. Because there are a few key things that I don’t think are being mentioned in stories surrounding this issue.

The Facts

Okay, first let’s get the serious stuff out of the way. I don’t want to downplay the deaths of young rugby players, football players and boxers who have died doing the thing they love. However, in most cases there is something the news overlooks. The headlines claim something along the lines of, “Boxer Died in Ring” but neglect the details.

In a recent case, a boxer had been experiencing severe migraines for months. He had the signs of brain injury, and yet he has allowed to step into the ring another time. He was basically allowed to die. In nearly all other cases, the referee has not stopped the fight at the time he should have done and has allowed for too much damage.

In one of the worst cases of instant death from rugby, a boy involved had suffered a major injury during the first half of the game. He had been knocked out cold. Yet he was allowed to play the second half, when he received the injury that killed him.

We’re seeing something similar in football. But what about the recent study, I hear you cry? Well, that study said that 99% of brains tested for signs of CTE were positive. That’s damming evidence if there ever was any. Except, these brains weren’t random samples. All had been donated by the families of the players purely because they suspected that their loved ones had CTE.

It is a problem, it is a serious concern, I’m not doubting that. But we need more realistic studies before we understand just how serious it is.

All Sport Kills

In many cases, depriving a child of playing rugby, football or boxing, means that they will turn to playing video games instead. You may be taking away the only thing that allows them to get exercise. You only need to look at new studies on standing vs sitting, and active vs inactive to see that this could be as much of a problem as letting them play contact sport.

What’s more, it’s not only contact sport that can kill. So where do you draw the line? If we stop everyone from boxing, playing football and rugby, do we then deem that cricket is too dangerous because of all the players that died on the cricket field.

Cricket is big in India and it’s helping the country to develop and prosper. In the UK and elsewhere, rugby is getting kids off the sofa and in the US, football is doing the same. Take that away and I’m sure we’d have a bigger problem. 

Of course, if you ban cricket, then you have to ban all forms of motor racing. In Formula 1 alone there have been more than 50 deaths on the track. Once you factor in the additional tiers (F2, F3, etc.,) that number grows considerably, and that’s before we include Nascar, Touring Cars and all forms of motorbike racing, where you’re much more likely to die.

So, as all of these traumatic brain injury attorneys work hard to bring the major football and rugby leagues to their knees and to make them responsible for countless deaths and injuries, I’ll happily side with them, if not just because I think the NFL need to start taking responsibility for some of their actions. But I’ll also be worried about losing some of my favorite sports. No matter what side you're on, we’re all living in a nanny state bubble and by definition sport is about taking risks and pushing things to the limit. Those things just don’t mix and something will come to a head soon.


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