Monday, July 7, 2014

Contact Sport must make Changes, Again.

The tragic death of Jordan Kemp 17 at the weekend is just one of many head trauma incidents but is a glimpse of a serious unfolding tragedy across all contact sport and for Jordan resulted in his untimely death.

Had Colin Slade been carrying the ball on Saturday night Maa Nonu would be in serious trouble for a no arms tackle.
The resulting contact with Slades' head that had his mouthguard travel meters was sickening in its ferocity yet completely within the current laws of Rugby.

League has removed the Shoulder charge from the allowable tackle methods, Football is concerned at the amount of cumulative brain trauma from heading the ball,  Rugby has removed tip tackles, Skiers are increasingly employing helmets in recreational skiing, cyclists all wear helmets, boxing is causing serious rethinking.

It would be stupid to  think all risk could or even should be removed from rugby but imho there is a growing problem
Cleaning out around rucks, body fends such as Nonu employed and other attacks to the head of players is building a plethora of largely avoidable brain injury victims that must be addressed and eliminated as far as possible.
In my playing days a fend was mandated to be with an open hand and yet still players were left wondering where they were and what happened.

No doubting Maa's legality or Colin's courage but how many of such contacts can be permitted to continue.

I have recently renewed contact with a school mate from 60 years ago who was tackled in trials for the first fifteen and the tackler died from a serious spinal trauma.
It is very likely that the post incident treatment afforded to that courageous young man, when viewed against all my first response training may very well have contributed to that tragic death but he, just as is Jordan Kemp, both still dead at 17.


JC said...

Nonu was the ball carrier not the tackler so its crazy to say he did anything dangerous.

Slade simply employed a dangerous front on chest high tackle and got hurt from his own actions.


Angry Tory said...

Rugby is rugby.

The sooner the MSM realise that Helen isn't PM any more, and that Kiwis are sick of men apologising for being men - or for playing rugby - the better.

Carlos said...

A friend from my school days was concussed on consecutive Saturdays playing 2nd XV rugby, triggering a brain tumour from which he died less than three months later aged 16. It happens. I have cautioned my 9 year old grandson about the dangers of heading the ball as he progresses at football. It is only a game, and plenty of other skills to be honed without putting his head on the line, as it were.

Marc said...

Carlos, did it ever occur to you that the developing brain tumor gave the symptom of the apparent concussion, and it wasn't the cause of the tumor. Diagnostic tests (? number) of years ago were not very sophisticated. I find your anecdotal story a little hard to believe. But, I wasn't there... just saying. But it would be a shame if you are denying your grandson an enjoyable sports experience because of some misplaced apprehensions.

Carlos said...

Marc, the concussions happened. The diagnosis (third hand at best) was that the brain tumour might have remained dormant for many years, but that a blow to the head was always going to set it off. I have no idea as to the validity of that, but that is what we, his friends, had explained to us when it became very apparent that he was going to die. Imbalance was the first symptom. Within a week or two of the second concussion, if he turned around quickly he would fall over. What you are suggesting may well be true, and it was 50 years ago.
My grandson is really enjoying football (soccer) and he is being encouraged by all of us. Heading the ball seems such an inessential part of the game for a young developing brain. His enthusiasm for the game is a pleasure to watch. That enthusiasm may wane as other interests come along, or he may develop to the point where coaching will insist that he, and his team mates must head the ball.
A healthy brain is essential to a full and active life. I just don't see the value in pushing its resilience to sharp knocks during its formative years.

JC said...

Its about perspective. There are may be 10 or 20 young lives wrecked by rugby injuries but maybe 100 in road deaths, many from alcohol and drugs, some from diseases, a number from abusive parents and too many from fights or general violence yet we concentrate on rugby?

Yes I get that bad outcomes in rugby are more easily identified and blame more easily apportioned and perhaps reduced by draconian measures but its all meaningless in terms of the overall death and injury rate from any number of other causes of death and injury.

Rugby death and severe injury only commands lines in the newspapers because there may be an organisation to blame as opposed to the hundreds of parents who kill and injure their kids by murder, neglect and stupidity.

From a national pov rugby deaths and injuries are a truly tiny percent of the preventable deaths and injuries from other causes and the benefits from playing sports like rugby are likely to be a thousand times more valuable than playing violent games on the X Box for hours on end each day.