Is it wise for sportsmen to use their head?

Clearly the positive effects of sport and physical activity helps us to stay healthy and trim. The positive, direct effects of engaging in regular physical activity are particularly apparent in the prevention of several chronic diseases that includes cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, hypertension, obesity, depression and osteoporosis.

But when it comes to robust sports like boxing and wrestling, professional wrestlers and boxers are in danger of causing serious injury to themselves. Promoters are only interested in making big bucks to see the audience entertained.

We have seen how wrestlers head butt one another just to get the approval of the crowd. One famous wrestling team – The British Bulldogs were famous for their headbutts and the crowd – both at ringside and at home through the small screen cheered them on as they headbutted their opponents. Wonder why people get a thrill of seeing one person bash another.

Some wrestlers have taken legal action against the World Wrestling Entertainment for brain injuries through nasty fights in the ring. Several years of “chair shots,” “flying head butts,” “facebreakers,” and “cobra clutch slams,” have left former professional wrestlers with long-term brain injuries to which the sport’s dominant league has continuously turned a blind eye, two ex-wrestlers allege in a proposed class-action suit filed in Philadelphia in January 2015. It is so pitiful to see them lying in a hospital bed. They earn big money, entertained us, but at what price?

The world-famous boxing legend, the late Muhamad Ali was also subject to punches to his head throughout his boxing career. Before he died at the age of 74 in June 2016, Ali had been publicly battling Parkinson’s disease for more than three decades. The cause of death according to the family spokesman, Bob Gunnell, was “septic shock due to unspecified natural causes.”

Now another sport – soccer leaves us wondering if ball heading is going to cause brain injuries in footballers. I love soccer myself and used to play the games during my school days, but always avoided heading the ball as I found it rather painful to head the ball. Whenever I was forced to do so by the Captain, I would come home nursing severe headaches for at least two days.

England has always been my favourite football team and almost every match they played in the world cup, I would try to catch it. Alan Shearer, the former England, New Castle and Blackburn Rovers strikers used to be a prolific header of the ball and out of the 260 goals that he scored, 46 were from his headers.

Now there is a risk of Shearer having dementia and he has agreed to front the BBC TV documentary Dementia– Football’s Silent Shame. Shearer became fully aware of dementia that can take a toll on footballers after she saw the movie ‘Concussion.’

On the show, Shearer will meet footballers and their loved ones affected by dementia before he himself undergoes a variety of cutting-edge medical tests himself to assess the condition of his own body and brain. He will also seek out scientific evidence claiming there is in fact no link between dementia and brain damage caused by heading the ball.

The question now remains: Are footballers going to use their head? And if it is proven that there is indeed a link to dementia for those who use their heads in such sports, will it not be wise for periodic medical screening?




Raymond Anthony Fernando is a motivational speaker, poet, author, trainer, songwriter, freelance television actor, ghostwriter, media celebrity, regular newspaper forum page writer and an advocate for the mentally ill.

He is a volunteer with the Institute of Mental Health. The author of 32 books was married to Doris Lau Siew Lang, herself an author of 8 books. Doris was called to the Lord in April 2014. This Model Caregiver 2007 and Mental Health Champion 2010, who is born on Valentine’s Day, has contributed 31 years of service to the public sector, 15 years of experience in public relations work, and received several awards and commendations from government organisations.

Raymond attributes his success to his beloved wife, Doris, who has always been his greatest inspiration.