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18 Jan, 2020 15:21

Snowflake culture soars as children could be banned from heading balls in Scotland

Snowflake culture soars as children could be banned from heading balls in Scotland

With just over two weeks into the new decade, the UK in 2020 seems less about the roaring twenties, and more about the tedious advances in "cotton wool culture", as Scottish children could be banned from heading balls.

In recent years playgrounds have seen the game of conkers banned, lunchtime tag replaced by "gentle hands," and now football might be joining the list too. The concern with the popular ball game grew due to research from Glasgow Brain Injury Research Group. They found that professional footballers are three and a half times more likely to develop neurological diseases than the general public. Because of that the Scottish FA is considering a ban on children's heads coming into contact with footballs.

Peter McCabe, Chief Executive of Headway – the brain injury association, adds: "In light of the recent study undertaken by the University of Glasgow, which suggested that professional football players have a higher risk of neurodegenerative diseases than the general public, there does seem to be merits in considering such a move."

It's not just the UK. After various class action lawsuits, the U.S. Soccer Federation in 2015 issued new guidelines banning or limiting players heading the ball, depending on their age. But with 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, critics question if such an over protective ban is justified.

The Football Association feels that there isn't sufficient evidence and believes such ambivalent findings might be an overreaction and Judith Hackitt from The Health and Safety Executive also questions the ruling: "Such laws are often wrongly cited as a reason to deny children opportunities, contributing to a cotton wool culture. Playing outdoors teaches young people how to deal with risk, and without this they are ill-equipped to deal with working life."

With children falling from swings, wrestling and playing ball games - being hurt and falling over is an ubiquitous part of their natural development. But the past few decades has seen a dramatic change of approach when exposed to risk and health and safety mitigation that could lead to a "significant loss in children's freedom."

Sadly, such rules and red tape will steal children of any exposure to dangers and, according to charity Play England, if "only a fifth of children regularly play outdoors in the UK" then this figure will only become lower, creating more 10-year-old computer zombies and smartphone couch potatoes.


Kay Obrien is a manager of a playground in Hackney in London. She believes that our over protective society has overstepped the mark and that this will create more problems in later life: "Accidents are going to be everywhere. The nature of growing up and becoming adult from a child is fraught with dangers along the way of course everywhere. You can play sports outdoors, you can be outdoors and fall out of a tree, you can trip over something. If we take risks out of children's lives entirely then they are going to grow up as adults that simply don't know how to manage their own risks – and then that is dangerous."

Yes there is concern that with constant head injuries in young people, but by creating more banned actions, games and policies we run into a dangerous spoil sport culture that will create clueless teenagers into adults with no common sense. So I say promote outdoor sports, climb a tree, play conkers and head the odd football. I'm sure the war time pensioners of Great Britain will only be laughing.

That's if they all don't have dementia, of course.

Also on rt.com Have dementia in the UK? You’re better off flying to Thailand for some quality care

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.