Wrestling’s the most dangerous sport for concussions
Student-athletes have a better chance of getting a concussion on a wrestling mat than they do on a football field, according to a study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine. The study focused on data reported to the NCAA by athletic trainers over a five-year period and concluded that college wrestlers have the highest concussion rates of any sport.
Is wrestling safer than football?
Wrestling coaches and officials contend that the high rate of concussions is actually due to careful monitoring rather than inherent danger. T.R. Foley, a journalist and former All-American college wrestler, believes that, unlike in football, wrestlers, coaches and officials quickly identify the warning signs of concussions. He told the Chicago Tribune…
“There’s a high level of self-reporting in wrestling because there’s nowhere to hide (on the mat)”
In addition to a culture of reporting head injury, wrestling supporters believe that there are not a lot of direct blows to the head. Also, there is no link between wrestling and chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE, the devastating brain injury found in many former football players.
Rule changes for safety
Like football, wrestling has begun to make rules changes aimed at increasing safety. Certain holds and high-risk moves have already been banned. For example, the dangerous “reverse lift” move, where a wrestler hurls his opponent backwards on the mat has been outlawed. More safety measures are coming down the line from USA Wrestling, as the sport’s governing body is currently compiling a central database on injuries to better understand how they are sustained and how to prevent them.
At the college level, the NCAA now allows unlimited time to deal with a head injury, a big increase from the former 90-second time limit. The NCAA has also started a major concussion study for all sports, including wrestling.<
Wrestling is a violent sport
At its core, wrestling is a violent contact sport. In order to eradicate the potential for head injuries, takedowns would have to be banned and wrestling would simply become unrecognizable, as Jim Guinta of the National Collegiate Wrestling Association told the Chicago Tribune…
“The vast majority of any concussion injury would happen during a takedown. In theory, you could say no more takedowns and guys would just wrestle on the ground. I guess you could do that, but it would be like saying no more tackling in football. It wouldn’t be football anymore.”
Wrestling can be made safer, but it will always be a dangerous sport.