At What Age Should Contact Sports Be Introduced?

Topics: Concussion, Injury, Contact sport Pages: 5 (1852 words) Published: April 3, 2008
Aggression has become a common tactic used by players willing to win a game at any cost. It allows players to take control of their opponents, create scoring opportunities, aid with defensive positioning and coverage. A team’s defensive line plays against the opponent’s top scoring line to minimize their scoring opportunities and tire them out. During intense games where a team is facing elimination, body contact is used as a mental and physical intimidation to gain control of the game and increase overall team play. However, body contact has proven to be a major risk factor causing injury as it allows players to deliberately and forcefully hit another player. Body contact is defined as an individual defensive method designed to legally block or impede progress of an opponent. This useful skill, thought by players to increase their chances of victory, has helped label several activities, especially hockey, as collision sports. Injuries are an unfortunate part of fast and dangerous sports, but should not be seen as an inevitable consequence of participation in sports. A single tactic or skill, body contact in particular, should not be ignored as the cause of too many youth being exposed to rising incidents resulting in injury caused by rough play. On the topic of body contact, there are those who are in favour of body contact. They believe that sports demand it and that if youth are exposed to it at an early age they will have the ability to avoid injury. Also, they claim that injuries will only result if players use improper technique while executing forms of body contact and as a result, leagues should not enforce rules with age limits concerning body contact. On the other hand, they are people who would argue that focusing on educating players and coaches and teaching them the proper skills at different levels will not decrease the risk of injury. They would appreciate the introduction of age limitations when it comes to introducing body contact. Moreover, they would rather it be eliminated all together and argue that it was designed only for trained professionals. Therefore, the relation between body contact and age limitations has become a debate which concerns leagues across the country.

Body contact is a major cause of injuries among young players. According to the Committee of Sports Medicine and Fitness, players in contact leagues are four times more likely to be injured and twelve times more likely to receive a fracture than those in non-contact leagues. Among the serious injuries that can be caused by body contact, concussions seem to be a particular concern with the possibility of permanent damage. The lasting effects of this injury are sometimes not fully recognized until complete maturation of the brain. The severity of concussions can range from a brief period of function loss to permanent amnesia and even unconsciousness. Concussions can result in minor headaches, memory function, visual abnormalities, motor and sensory changes and seizures. Permanent changes in the brain’s function have also been observed. Players who recover and return to play are at risk of being injured again and having the damage advance. Repeated injuries that occur can result in an increase in the effect of the injury. When a player is younger, their brain is still undergoing stages of development and at higher risk of injury. With this in mind, repeated concussions could lead to a change in their mental status, permanent learning disabilities and several other neurological problems. Youth who experience traumatic brain injury may never get the chance to fully develop the skills and characteristics adults possess. Despite advances in the design of equipment, reports of injuries involving youth have been increasing. Studies supporting the association of body contact and injury have shown that with an increase of age, when body contact is being first introduced, there are higher incidence rates where injuries are occurring. As a...
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