Has youth contact sport had its day?

Posted by: Anonymous

8th Nov 2019 04:07pm

Our Cafestudy community were prompted to give their thoughts on the current state of youth contact sports, the barriers it is facing and the direction it is heading in.

AusPlay have released youth sport participation data for the 2018 calendar year, with rugby union bucking the trend for contact sports and reporting a 9% growth in youth participation in comparison to 2017.

Unfortunately for Australia’s two other popular contact sports, rugby league and Australian rules football, the results weren’t as positive. Rugby league recorded a huge decrease of 26% from 2017 to 2018, while Australian rules football’s decrease wasn’t quite as large at 6%.

In contrast, football/soccer has improved on its already strong position by increasing participation by 5% year on year. So what are the possible reasons for this decline?

The decrease in youth participation coincides with Australian researchers discovering Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in two former rugby league players, with Australian researchers calling for bans on contact sports for kids.

The concern for injury from contact sport is a large reason why some Cafestudy members believe that contact sport needs to be managed very closely if it is going to survive.

“I know of friends who played rugby league and had some fair knocks, had to have different parts pinned or re-set, when bones get broken. They finished playing early because of their knees and general injury toll became too much for them to carry on. Even with headgear worn, brain injury is still very possible in a hard knock.””

“I do think it will be phased out over the next 10 years because research has indicated that it is too risky for permanent injury especially to the brain.”

Then there were other members who highlighted the benefits of team sports, acknowledging that it would be a shame to have the sports taken away.

"Young people learn the principles of team spirit, etc. by engaging in these sports."

"Please keep encouraging our kids to play sport, its wonderful for them, they learn sportsmanship, make friends, learn to play in a team and so much more."

Youth team sport in general will always have a place in Australia, however youth contact sport will not. The biggest obstacle for sporting bodies of contact sport is being able to use advancements in research and technology to limit the risks of injury from direct contact, whether it be by forcing participants to wear more safety equipment or investing in coaching resources to ensure that proper technique is taught early on for tackling.

Comments 3

  • 18th Feb 2020 10:18pm

i certainly hope kids contact sport is maintained. kids are wrapped in more than enough cotton wool already.

  • 28th Nov 2019 07:43pm

It is important for children to enjoy sports and intermingle with other children to help them with cognitive and communication skills. It’s also great for children to get plenty of fresh air and to enjoy themselves.

  • 21st Nov 2019 07:45am

I think kids taking up a sport is important. It gives them social skills as well as learning how to play as a team. I agree that if the right way on how to play is taught right from the beginning and proper safety gear work then the injuries might be fewer.