If someone asked you about your opinion on collisions in soccer, what would you say? You’d probably talk about how they’re inevitable, but that they’re probably the number 1 cause of injury, the number 1 cause of concussions, and the number 1 cause of serious, traumatic head injuries, right? While you’d certainly be safe to assume that, it may not actually be the case!
According to a study conducted by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, it turns out that heading the ball could actually be responsible for head injuries way more than collisions. Who would have thought, right? It actually turns out that worse cognitive function in soccer players can be mostly attributed to frequent ball heading as opposed to head impacts caused by collisions.
With these findings, it begs to ask the question, “Is soccer simply inherently dangerous?” Perhaps we’ve been focusing too much of our efforts on trying to prevent accidental injuries and unintentional head impacts by providing more effective protective equipment, changing rules, etc., but could it simply be that the game of soccer is inherently dangerous?
Ball heading is an integral aspect of soccer, would it be too much to simply ban it? That may be a discussion for another day, but the findings from the study conducted by Albert Einstein College of Medicine will certainly generate much discussion amongst parents, players, and organizers alike.
What Did The Study Actually Find?
Before we begin to question the entire premise behind youth sports, let’s talk about what the study actually concluded. Study leader, Michael Lipton, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.R., Professor of Radiology and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Einstein said, “unintentional head impacts are generally considered the most common cause of diagnosed concussions in soccer, so it’s understandable that current prevention efforts aim at minimizing those collisions.” And his assessment is entirely accurate, but let’s keep listening.
“But intentional head impacts – that is, soccer ball heading – are not benign.” Lipton went on to say that, “we’ve found that heading appears to alter cognitive function as well, at least temporarily.” While more research will certainly be conducted to determine the efficacy and accuracy of the study and the results, these findings are nonetheless alarming. It is important to note that ball heading has been previously linked to temporary cognitive deficiencies, the Einstein study is actually the first to compare the cognitive effects of heading to those seen with accidental head impacts.
It is virtually guaranteed that more studies will take a closer look at these findings in the near future, especially given the gravity of the situation. And at the end of the day, we care about our children, and will do whatever it takes to protect them and their bodies. So, if it gets to the point that ball heading needs to be banned from soccer, so be it!
What do you think? Should ball heading be banned from the game? Share your comments below and be sure to share your thoughts!