“The U.S. Soccer Federation is recommending a ban on headers for players 10 and under, limits for players between 11 and 13 and having medical professionals rather than coaches make decisions on whether players suspected of concussions can remain in games” (AP)
For the past few years, I have been forecasting a future with youth soccer that would see school districts impose headgear requirements for its players. The helmet (of sorts) would likely be soft-shell, as worn below by current Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Čech who suffered an unusually brutal injury nine years ago.
“The depressed fracture of the skull that Cech suffered in a clash with Reading’s Stephen Hunt threatened his life. His skull is thinner than average – possibly as a result of being born a triplet – and he will have to continue wearing his protective rugby-style cap for the next two years at least”
–Duncan White, Telegraph, 2008
The two factors going forward in this debate will be safety and reality.
Everyone wants players to be safe, but at what point does it cross into over-protection?
Petr Čech’s injury is an extreme anomaly. Precautions can and should be taken. Safety is a paramount concern. Concussions and head injuries do happen in this sport. Any player suspected of suffering a concussion or potential head injury needs to be examined and taken care of in the best way possible.
The proposed solution as a whole, however, seems to be bordering on the excessive. If parents don’t want kids to play or kids don’t want to play because of this fear, then don’t play or stop playing. That’s fine. It’s that simple. And to be clear, this recommendation doesn’t come with any attitude.
That’s just the reality of the beautiful game and life.
P.S. Headers are bad for the sport?