USA Soccer Will Come To Regret Its Heading Ban

"USA Soccer recently settled a class action lawsuit that claimed it was negligent in player safety when it came to concussions. As part of the settlement, USA Soccer is implementing new concussion protocols and restrictions, though the organization claims those programs were in the works before the settlement was reached."

As part of the new restrictions, players under 10 will be banned from using their heads to hit the ball in practice and in games. Kids from 11 to 13 years old will only be able to head the ball in games, and not in practices.

This is a terrible decision by USA soccer that will likely have consequences down the line. And for the wrong reasons. What was 'negligent' exactly? Heading is an essential part of the game.

I have no idea what statistics they used and quite frankly I'd be skeptical of them anyway. Something tells me the 'precautionary principle' prevailed here and fear of lawsuits more than anything.

Problem is, as these kids turn 11 they will have to learn a skill they should have already mastered at a young age.

“Taking headers out of the game would change how the flow of the game goes," Estrella Middle School soccer coach Jon Hessburg said. "There’s a lot of offense involved in headers, there’s a lot of defense involved.”

Absolutely. You're changing the very idea of the game itself. Not to mention put Americans at a disadvantage against Europeans and South Americans. 

Other coaches agree, saying not teaching kids such an integral part of the game might put them at a disadvantage in high school or college.Some also believe heading can be less dangerous if it's taught correctly, but they believe that teaching has to start early.

EXACTLY. Once they learn, as I did, they know when and how to head. The occasional head-to-head collision is rare and usually a freak incident not worthy of such an action.

But concussion experts say contact with the ball doesn't concern them. They say most serious injuries come from contact with other players who are also trying to use their heads.

Answered above. Ban sports then. Because when you mess with the fundamentals of a game you mess with its essence.

"They either collide with each other o,r one of them falls to the ground, striking their head on the ground," Dr. Javier Cardenas, director of the Barrow Concussion and Brain Injury Center said.

Gee thanks Captain Obvious. Again. Rare. I played and have watched soccer for over 37 years and saw more knee injuries than I did head incidents.

The Arizona Interscholastic Association already restricts heading practice to 15 minutes twice a week," Cardenas said. He said more restrictions won't put kids at any more risk for injuries by not teaching them early.

Oh, it will. My hunch.

We see it in hockey already. They banned body checking at a young age. There's reasonable theory that the dirty checking, injuries sustained to hitting and general all around clumsy physical play including lashing out violently to a clean check is directly attributed to the fact they never learned how to hit and take a hit.

Above all. What in the end separates two teams is grit and mental strength. The tougher team usually prevails in sports. I know this may offend the snowflakes among us but this is what it is. Sports is not 'recreational' at the competitive level. It's brutal, brutish in its brutality.

Heading in soccer, among other things, is a way to fight for the ball. Take this away and you're left with what exactly? If a player doesn't know how to head a ball it limits their usefulness. 

I myself have multiple tears and twists and root canals to prove it. If you can't rise above the pain then you have no business playing sports.

At all.

Go play tennis, or take up swimming or cycling (all fine sports in their own right) if the physicality of soccer, football, basketball and hockey are too much.


Once again, it's not about science or any substantial stance. As noted above, it's the precautionary principle:

"But today, given the enormous stakes of a significant health risk to millions of American children, it was the right thing to do."

What the heck are they talking about? If this is not fear-mongering look to appeal to emotions I don't know what is. Of course the medical profession is gonna focus on the risk but if we let doctors run our sports we'd all end up playing checkers.

I mean, why stop at this? Stop kids from riding their bikes because 'significant health risks'.

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