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Would Banning Headers In Soccer Solve The Concussion Problem?

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Heading the ball in soccer has been accused of causing most concussions. But the hazard may be more due to rough play than to one particular technique, researchers say.

The risks involved in heading — when a player uses their head to keep the ball in play — are not new. But Dawn Comstock, an injury epidemiologist at the University of Colorado’s School of Public Health, wanted to know if headers are indeed the chief cause of concussions.

She became curious after learning of the Safer Soccer Campaign, a collaboration between the Sports Legacy Institute and several former U.S. Women’s soccer stars that was formed to try to ban heading in youth players under age 14. Though she respected their motives, Comstock wanted to be sure the changes the group proposed would really make a difference. “I like to see kids kept safe,” she says, “but I like to see that the evidence is data-driven.”

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