Article by Sana Singru
At ISM, students are given the luxury of being able to participate in a wide variety of sports, ranging from gymnastics to golf. Amongst the array of these sports also lie those that involve physical contact, such as football or basketball. With such sports being offered, the inevitable risk of injuries, particularly concussions, becomes significantly greater. Understandably, this is a concern that many parents will have, which raises the question: should contact sports, such as rugby, be banned at ISM?
According to a study, a group of 835 school-aged rugby players were studied over the course of a year. The results of this study showed that a total of 425 injures were incurred by the students, of which 204 injuries restricted students from playing for about a month. Most worrying of all, it was found that there were 81 concussions diagnosed – a concerning figure, considering the difficulty in diagnosing a concussion in the first place. Many brain injuries that can occur while playing contact sports are extremely difficult to treat. For example, if a player suffers a severe blow to the head, they might run the risk of getting a brain bleed- which is an extremely challenging condition to treat.
Another consideration is the danger of permanent brain damage. According to neurologist, Prof. Ann Mckee, scientists studying “brains of former American footballers and found a new kind of dementia, called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). They believe CTE causes symptoms such as personality change, mood swings and memory loss, and is linked to repetitive head knocks on the pitch” (Beattie). All of these arguments must be taken into consideration when determining the safety and acceptability of contact sports in ISM.
On the other hand, one may argue that contact sports provide several benefits, that are crucial in a child’s development. Neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Tator, from Toronto Western Hospital, maintains the standpoint that, despite the risks, parents should allow their children to participate in contact sports. He argues that collision sports teach kids essential life skills such as being “responsible for my own body and for the bodies of my teammates and opponents”, furthermore “team collision sports [can spill] over to other sports like skiing. And that [one can be] better protected against injury as a result” (The Globe and Mail. Dr Andrew Murray, comes from a similar perspective and says “The power of sport is one that is backed by hard science and evidence, and the physical, mental, emotional and social benefits massively outweigh any potential drawbacks” (Anderson and Murray). Both the arguments also state the fact that coaching and refereeing has developed greatly over the last few years, and as such this significantly reduces any potential for injury.
To conclude, the debate over whether contact sports, such as rugby, should be banned will be a continuous one. Both sides offer valid arguments. In the end, it comes down to how willing the parent and the player are to play the game, while considering and understanding the risks associated with the game.