For those who see sport as intrinsically a ‘contact’ one (and some are clearly more so than others), the latest news from the really clever people at our very own University of Glasgow, have now claimed a link between ‘heading a football’ and the onset, in later life, of dementia. Indeed some other studies have claimed that heading the ball multiple times can lead to impaired memory for up to 24 hours after a game has finished.  Extraordinary claims in many ways although, over the years there have been many a famous footballer from Scotland and England who have passed away far too early and their loved ones have been left wondering if there could be a link. Now that the scientists have become involved, the footballing authorities have sat up and taken note. Apart from anything else, they will now be terrified at the prospect of litigation, given that they might be seen as having breached their ‘duty of care’ . ( Many a student is wincing at this point praying to God I don’t start rambling on about a snail in a bottle………..😆.) It raises a myriad of other yet to be answered questions but clearly the beaks in charge of rugby and boxing, to name but two, will now surely have to listen to the evidence. The SFA here have touted the possibility of ‘banning’ the heading of the ball for junior players , likely to be aimed, specifically, at those under 11. (https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/50246128) Hundreds of years when I was at school I played rugby. I broke my nose (twice), my collar bone, 6 ribs, dislocated my knee and had too many black eyes to mention. Naturally, at this point I’m going to give it…’it didn’t do me any harm’ but that is perhaps the point. We thought, we assumed it didn’t do harm. But then back in the 70s nobody wore a seatbelt or a bicycle helmet – it doesn’t mean it was not dangerous not to – it only meant that evidence hadn’t told us or confirmed otherwise. Societal changes (Criminology students note the term) mean that, as we evolve, it is our way, some say our duty to look at ways in which we can improve our lives. Safer ways to promote longevity. If this is a step that medics and research scientists think is important, then I say we should listen to them. Thoughts anyone..?? Whether a parent of a participating child or an ex-participant themselves…???

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