Consequences of the shoulder charge must be discussed
Jarryd Hayne attacks during the round 18 NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the Wests Tigers. AAP Image/Action Photographics, Grant Trouville
Much has been said about how the new rule changes relating to shoulder charges have gone wrong.
I still hear callers on the radio saying they don’t want to see the end of the big hit and that Greg Inglis on Dean Young was a “good shot”.
Some argue they’re professionals, the players know the risks and what they’re in for.
But do these guys truly understand what they’re exposing themselves to and what the future implications may be?
How many people look at mumbling former players and think, “he’s taken a few too many knocks to the head” along with a laugh?
Our game is brutal, which is half the appeal of it, but the ARLC should make stamping out the shoulder charge a priority before they find themselves facing a severe legal bill.
Repeat concussions are repeat cases of brain damage. It’s irreversible. And we expose players to it over and over again.
Club doctors are told to send players back on by coaches and players who aren’t educated enough about the risks of head injuries, beg to go back on the field.
There are numerous instances, well publicised in the United States, where former athletes have committed violent crimes or committed suicide where brain damage as a result of their chosen sport is suspected to have had an influence.
We hear that a rugby league tackle is like being in a car crash. People die in car crashes! Why are we waiting for a tragedy to happen while we debate that “taking away the shoulder charge will ruin the game”.
The argument it’s not the shoulder charge, but contact with the head, that is the problem is a feeble one.
I can’t say I know the statistics, but at a glance, how much more likely are we to see a player brick fall, lay motionless on the turf or stumble sideways while trying to run forwards, straight after a shoulder charge in comparison to a ball and all tackle with arms?
Four American college footballers have died as a result of in match head-injuries, three NFL players have befallen the same fate, two Australian rules players, 24 boxers (four in title fights), one rugby player, 17 professional wrestlers (eight suicides). And they’re just the examples listed on the wikipedia page.
Is the theatre and excitement of the game really worth seeing one of our hero’s lives cut short, impaired or irreversibly damaged?
How would you feel if we watched Ben Barber take a shot like that of Inglis on Young, but instead of stumbling off the pitch with the help of the trainer, he never got up. This isn’t a far-fetched hypothetical. The potential is a reality.
Over to you Roarers.
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