Should 'heading' be banned in soccer?
- Soccer, also known as football across the world, has origins in Mesoamerican, Chinese, Japanese, and Grecian cultures. However, the most developed form of the modern game originated in England in the 12th century.
- “Heading” is a technique performed by soccer players by hitting the ball with the head in various ways, including a diving header, flick-on header, and glancing header.
- Soccer/football history has seen many players score many goals in the net through heading. Some of these “best soccer header goals of all time” have been credited to world-famous players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Pelé, and others.
- Healthline claims that concussions occur in 22% of all injuries of soccer players; symptoms can cover headaches, memory loss, confusion, and nausea.
- WorldAtlas reported that soccer is one of the most popular sports in the world, with over 3.5 billion fans. Cricket, hockey, and tennis follow in the lead.
Soccer, also known as football outside of the US, is one of the most popular sports in the world. However, the sport has been scrutinized in recent years due to the potential health risks associated with heading the ball. There are several reasons why heading should be banned in soccer.
First and foremost, heading has been linked to brain injuries. The act of heading the ball can cause concussions and long-term brain damage. Repeated headers can cause cumulative damage to the brain, and young players are particularly vulnerable to these injuries. This is because their brains are still developing and are more susceptible to injury.
In addition to the lack of protection, soccer players do not wear helmets or other protective gear, which leaves them more vulnerable to head injuries when heading the ball. Unlike other sports, such as American football and ice hockey, soccer players do not have any additional padding to protect their heads during a game.
Furthermore, young players who engage in heading may be at risk of developmental issues. Research has suggested that heading before the age of 12 can negatively impact brain development, including memory, attention, and cognitive function. This raises concerns about the long-term effects of heading on young players. Therefore, because of the open risk of brain injuries, lack of protection, inequality in training and resources are all significant concerns, and to ensure the safety and fairness of the sport, it is time to consider alternatives to heading into soccer.
Heading is integral to the soccer/football game and should not be removed. Soccer without heading would be unthinkable, as some of the most historic and exciting goals have been scored with the head. What about Suarez's insane header from outside the box? Or Cristiano's colossal leap while playing for Juventus? The latter is notable because Ronaldo had to reinvent himself during his later years, becoming more of a poacher inside the box rather than a speedy winger. If heading was not allowed in soccer, his career arguably would have declined much faster.
Soccer players are specifically trained to strike the ball around the hairline—the area of the skull that is the strongest. As long as players are properly trained, they can mitigate the risk of brain injury when striking the ball with their head. This is one of the first things young players learn when they start heading the ball. Additionally, players are trained to aggressively push their heads forward, as passively allowing the ball to hit you can increase head injury risk. Proper training reduces head injuries.
Finally, no one is forcing players to head the ball. It's an optional part of the game—not a requirement. If players don't want to head the ball, they can simply bring it down with their chest or shoulders before striking it with their feet. Likewise, no one is forcing children to play soccer. If parents are concerned about the risk of head injuries, they can choose a different sport for their children. It's that easy.