Should Violent Sports Be Banned?

Some sports involve a larger than usual risk of personal injury for participating athletes. Sports like swimming, in which athletes rarely make contact with equipment or other athletes, may be described as “non-violent,” while high-contact events like football and soccer are classified as “violent sports.”

Those who would ban violent sports are often motivated by concerns over the health of the athletes. The journalist Malcolm Gladwell, among others, suggests that American universities ban the game of football because of the negative effects the sport has on the health of their athletes. The discovery of the disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy in the brains of thousands of former violent sport athletes is the most-cited evidence that these activities have a major impact on long-term health and wellness.

Banning activities like boxing and football would no doubt anger fans of these sports, and some doctors are unsure about the veracity of claims made about CTE in the brains of former athletes. Activities seen by some as violent sports are nothing more than traditional contests of strength and will, as important to a well-rounded education as music or art.

Though medical evidence linking sports like football and boxing to chronic brain disease appears to be increasing, the question of whether to ban these sports will ultimately fall to local, state, or federal governments. The decision on whether to allow a student to participate in a violent sport is currently left up to the parent or guardian of each athlete.