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Match of the decade: risk management of concussion versus high-speed collisions in the football codes

Do we need to change the way body-contact sports are played and administered?

Australians like to boast, as many nations do, that we are one of the most sports-obsessed societies in the world. To justify our belief, we can emphasise our sporting contributions to the world’s modern entertainment culture. One can draw the analogy that Australia is to the football codes what Switzerland is to language. The mastery of German, French, Italian and, for the most part English, by the citizens of Switzerland is lauded for the achievement that it is. In Australia, we could argue a similar cultural achievement in hosting very well attended high-quality games of Australian football (Australian Football League [AFL]), rugby league (National Rugby League [NRL]), rugby union and soccer (football). We should perhaps celebrate more the biography of Tom Wills by Sydney psychiatrist Greg de Moore as an Australian history work of international interest that explores the development of some of the sports that dominate modern culture.1

Undoubtedly the world’s predominant sport is soccer football and, on the world stage, Australia is a small player in this game. Yet the other football codes popular here can all claim to thrive in their smaller patches, not because of world dominance but because of particular excitements such as higher scoring and regular intense collisions between players.

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