I really like this latest addition to the wars about the possible long-term implications of heading the ball in soccer on ultimate brain function, an issue that despite many studies has just not been settled yet, else why would we still allow people to head the ball since, even if it’s not too harmful, one can’t deny that heading the ball can’t possibly do your brain any good so why allow anyone to do it?
Why not just change the rules and allow other parts of the body to compensate for not using the head?
But I digress.
Anyway, this latest study of 7676 Scottish male former professional soccer players (who were compared to a control group of non-soccer playing pros), the “risk of neurodegenerative disease” (was) “higher among former professional soccer players with longer careers.”
In other words, the longer they played, the higher the risk of neurodegenerative disease compared to the general public.
With one exception, that is.
And that exception is goalies, or as the soccer world prefers, keepers, who, according to this data are not at any higher risk of brain and neurological conditions when compared with people who haven’t played soccer at a pro level.
In other words, heading the ball, which all outfield players have to do in soccer, can injure the brain and neurological system over time, although I think that part of the difference between keepers and other players may be due to a factor these researchers don’t (and couldn’t) comment on: namely that by choosing to play in goal, people who become keepers just show that they were smarter in the first place than other players.