Concussions is a main topic being discussed in every football forum today. As the NFL is changing its regulations to decrease the incidences of concussions, the sport of soccer continues to deal with this reoccurring problem.
Even though soccer does not have the same degree of contact as football, it has one of the highest rates of concussions among young athletes and collegiate players. The American Journal of Sports Medicine states that the number of girls who suffer concussions in soccer is second only to football (Mandell). Furthermore, a McGill University Study found that more than 60% of college level soccer players reported symptoms of concussions during a single season (Edwards).
Allison, a fifteen-year-old from Chester Springs, Pa., has had at least five concussions since the age of 12. She is only able to attend school four hours a day, her room is lit with soft blue light, and she eats dinner by candlelight. Allison said, “If you didn’t head the ball, you were like the weakest link.” Now, three years post her first concussion, she still suffers headaches, dizziness, nausea and vision problems (Snow).
While there is a surplus of information that recommends headgear for soccer players, experts are undecided whether the wearing of a headgear decreases the incidence of concussions. Some experts suggest that only at the right speed and angle of the ball will the headgear provide safety. A team physician for the Ohio Premier Soccer organization in Columbus said, “The headgear can prevent some nasty contusions. These are marketed directly to prevent concussions and that’s not really accurate” (Cooper).
I questioned Sia Dagrizikos, a soccer player at New York Institute of Technology, about the wearing of headgear. She told me though they are not required to wear headgear, she elects to continue to wear it as she suffered concussions in high school and does not want to be sidelined again.
Photo by Michael Liberman
And so the conversation continues: Will headgear, in soccer, ever become mandatory?