Soccer and dementia - Banning headers

MOST boxers, their coaches and medical advisers are well aware of the dangers associated with their sport.

Whether amateur or professional, boxers who get hit repeatedly on the head are liable to suffer brain damage. Other contact sports also have their dangers, especially rugby where head and neck injuries are not uncommon.

However, it has now emerged that playing soccer, a sport not normally associated with life-changing injuries, may be just as perilous as boxing, particularly for professional players.

Repeated heading during a footballer’s professional career may be linked to long-term brain damage and early onset dementia, according to a study by British scientists. The Football Association in the UK has promised to support further research. The FAI should take note and do likewise.

In the meantime, while a well executed header is one of the more graceful aspects of The Beautiful Game, there is nothing beautiful about dementia. Ending headers altogether, especially in schools competitions, must be considered.

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