Risky business: London’s youngsters play on injured to emulate ‘tough’ sporting heroes

Young Londoners injured playing football or rugby risk further harm by playing on for fear of being labelled a cheat, research has suggested.

A survey of 1,000 active children revealed that 62% of 11-16 year olds have continued playing when hurt.

One in four children nationally reported having been seriously injured playing sport, and 68% believed that pulled muscles, bleeding legs and fractures were more serious than head injuries.

“This lack of awareness of the potential seriousness of head injuries among young players is very concerning and in some cases this is leading to high-risk behaviour,” said Cheryl Abrahams, a personal injury lawyer for Bolt Burdon Kemp.

“More needs to be done to increase awareness of the potential health risks posed by such injuries right across the game – including matches played at school and at out-of-school sports clubs,” she said.

The survey also showed that 63% of children in London regard professional sportsmen who play on when injured as ‘tough’.

The Football Association (FA) has put in place new rules this season governing head injuries and concussions.

“Most young players think that professional footballers or rugby players who fake injuries on the field are setting a bad example,” said Ms Abrahams.

“It is possible that this is adding to the pressure to demonstrate their resilience,” she said.

Ms Abrahams suggested that despite ‘a lot of useful guidance’ from sporting bodies, further training of PE teachers would help minimise risk to children.

“They are not currently required to have a medical certificate in first aid, or to be trained in how to spot the signs of concussion,” she said.

Picture courtesy of Giulio Bernardi, with thanks

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