It’s a mug’s game

Now for a bit of controversy.

I really enjoy doing footy tipping, and indeed watching it can be quite entertaining. Love a bit of kick-to-kick in the park.

But footy, for real? Nup. I reckon it’s a mug’s game(*). As much as I might make fun of the Americans and their super-armour-padded version of football, I can appreciate that they’re trying to avoid injuries. Footy is not a low-risk game. Fundamentally it’s a game that is punishing to the body.

And then there’s the collisions. Despite precautions, serious injuries abound. Just a few weeks ago Collingwood’s Blake Caracella wound up with a severe neck injury. Apparently James Hird has suffered just about every injury imagineable. And occasionally there are deaths.

A fascinating article in the Good Weekend a few months ago (probably not online, even if I could remember the title) looked at where professional football players go to once they retire. For many by the ripe old age of 30 or 35, their football careers are over, and they have done permanent damage to their bodies — a stark contrast to the fit healthy young men they appear to be when playing.

The result so many of them seem to end up with is not something I’d wish on anybody. There are far less punishing sports around, and it all makes me rather thankful that my kids aren’t that interested in playing footy beyond the occasional kick.

And those who play, well hopefully they enjoy it. But even more importantly, I hope they know the risks, and act accordingly.

(*)Admittedly I’m a natural sloth, and don’t participate regularly in any organised sport.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

5 replies on “It’s a mug’s game”

Well, I do admire them, but wonder what the devil AFL players do it for! Yes, we do get AFL on the premier sports channels in Canada, and yes people play it here, but not in huge numbers. Yes, Canada does play a form of Grid-iron football, but the rules are different, slightly, than the American. We just *have* to be different, you know. ;)
The guys I admire most I think are the bicycle riders like McEwan, Ulrich etc. Why do they do it????

My father played football, my uncle, two brothers and a nephew. All have suffered on going injuries that have affected them later in life. Nephew at age 19 has an ongoing injury. Safer riding a bike in traffic.

I love my footy. Love to watch the game, wonder if my boy will want to play, know my girl loves to watch and play. But I have always known that it’s a hard sport, and one thing I’ve said a few times is that Michael Voss (Current Lions Capt.) will be in a wheelchair when he’s 50. He’s knees are completely shot. And he’d not be the only one. There would be plenty of players in the same boat.
Then you look at the current stats; Bulldogs with 5 ACLs, Lions with 4, not sure of how many with other teams, and that’s just one major injury. There are plenty of other major and minor injuries happening week in week out.
Also, I don’t think the season has always had this ‘split’ round in the middle of the year. I’m pretty sure that it’s only a recent thing. They seem to be worked a heck of a lot harder than the boys I grew up watching in the 70’s. Those lads used ot have full time day jobs, and play footy on the weekends. Now a footballer is a full time career!

Football, of any code, isn’t all that special here. The problem is that professional players of sports in general are put up as paragons of health when their extreme focus on competitiveness makes them anything but. The effect is that people think that doing sports isn’t healthy when what actually isn’t healthy is pursuing results at the price of everything else.

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