Fundamental Changes in Soccer
Sportsmail in the United Kingdom is on a crusade to help tackle the dementia that has crippled many English Legends in their senior years. The problems is, they don't want to fundamentally change the game of soccer, and that is what it's going to take to save the next generation of Soccer Stars from post-playing related brain issues like dementia. They want more support for retired players, which is noble, but they stop short of real changes to the game today.
Here, look at the Sportsmail's 7-Point Charter for yourself:
#6: Substitution Protocols in game.
#7: Changing Training regiments.
Sportsmail literally solved nothing when it comes to INCURRING head injuries in the present day.
If Sportsmail was SERIOUS about preventing head injuries, there are 2 very simple rule changes that would exponentially cut down on potential brain bruising.
You don't even have to pick both, just one.
Editor's Note: No hardcore soccer fan or publication would ever endorse either change.
Change #1: No headers outside of the penalty boxes.
Most violent collisions and corralling of sky high kicks are at midfield. If you wanted to eliminate one of the culprits for dangerous head play in soccer, don't allow players to use their heads outside of the penalty box.
You can keep the beautiful goals and the spectacular defenses near the goal, and you would simply eliminate the scrums at midfield that accompany nearly every goal kick. Under Change #1, use your head at midfield, same as a handball.
Soccer purists just called me a Blasphemer.
Change #2: Out of bounds, above the pitch.
In indoor soccer, there are no out of bounds. Stoppages in play exist when the ball goes over the boards or the ball hits the ceiling. If you installed a net in the outdoor game, let's say 25 feet in the air, and extended it from the top of the circle on one end of the field to the top of the circle at the other end of the field, and called that out of bounds, it would cause teams to play less long ball and force more ball control measures. There would be no restrictions on heading, simply less opportunities for heading.
Soccer purists just had mass heart attacks.
Listen, I didn't say they were great ideas. I said there are ways to prevent head injuries in soccer. These are discussions that should be taking place at the executive levels of FIFA. In the youth leagues, there are already restrictions on heading in America. At the top of the soccer pyramid in England, though? That's a tough sell. In order to protect the players at the top levels, you would have to fundamentally change the game.
There absolutely should be a better safety net for soccer veterans, but what if computer simulations showed that Change #1 could reduce future head injuries by 50%?
What if the same studies showed that Change #2 could reduce future head injuries by 75%?
What do you do then?