Has youth contact sport had its day?
Posted by: Caféstudy
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.
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.
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.