Recently, the debate over injurious sports has hit fever pitch. In the USA, the movement towards recognising a connection between contact sports and concussions has proved long and difficult. Now, Australian health advocacy groups are calling for all combat sports to be banned from the Olympic and Commonwealth Games competitions.
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has suggested that sports such as boxing and martial arts should be banned on account of the fact that they cause “irreversible injuries” in those who participate in events. In addition to the long-term negative side effects of too many concussions, the AMA suggests there are many other good reasons to abandon so-called violent sports.
In a press statement released last week, AMA vice president Steve Parnis singled out violent sports as inherently dangerous. “These sports are a public demonstration of interpersonal violence which is unique among sporting activities,” the statement explained. “Victory is obtained by inflicting on the opponent such a measure of physical injury that the opponent is unable to continue, or which at least can be seen to be significantly greater than is received in return.”
According to Dr. Parnis, the extent of the damage caused by these sports is significant. “You see a range of injuries but the ones that concern us the most are the ones that affect the brain and the cervical spine,” he told the ABC. “You can see irreversible injury with relatively trivial blows to a head. The concussion injuries are very prevalent, even more so we think then boxing because the gloves are almost like bare-fisted fights, and cervical injuries can occur as well. I haven’t heard of a case of quadriplegia but I think it’s a matter of time.”
With more attention being paid to the long-term side effects of engaging in these kinds of sporting activities, the organisation has also called for a blanket ban on young people participating in the sports. By curbing their interests in increasingly violent sports such as MMA and boxing, the group hopes to affect some positive public health changes.
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