Applying the Bradford Hill Criteria for Causation to Repetitive Head Impacts and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a neurodegenerative disease associated with a history of repetitive head impacts (RHI). CTE was described in boxers as early as the 1920s and by the 1950s it was widely accepted that hits to the head caused some boxers to become “punch drunk.” However, the recent discovery of CTE in American and Australian-rules football, soccer, rugby, ice hockey, and other sports has resulted in renewed debate on whether the relationship between RHI and CTE is causal.

Identifying the strength of the evidential relationship between CTE and RHI has implications for public health and medico-legal issues. From a public health perspective, environmentally caused diseases can be mitigated or prevented. Medico-legally, millions of children are exposed to RHI through sports participation; this demographic is too young to legally consent to any potential long-term risks associated with this exposure.

To better understand the strength of evidence underlying the purported causal relationship between RHI and CTE, we examined the medical literature through the Bradford Hill criteria for causation. The Bradford Hill criteria, first proposed in 1965 by Sir Austin Bradford Hill, provide a framework to determine if one can justifiably move from an observed association to a verdict of causation. The Bradford Hill criteria include nine viewpoints by which to evaluate human epidemiologic evidence to determine if causation can be deduced: strength, consistency, specificity, temporality, biological gradient, plausibility, coherence, experiment, and analogy.

We explored the question of causation by evaluating studies on CTE as it relates to RHI exposure. Through this lens, we found convincing evidence of a causal relationship between RHI and CTE, as well as an absence of evidence-based alternative explanations. By organizing the CTE literature through this framework, we hope to advance the global conversation on CTE mitigation efforts.

Imposing compulsory Rugby Union on schoolchildren: an analysis of English state-funded secondary schools

Objective: to establish the extent to which Rugby Union was a compulsory physical education activity in state-funded secondary schools in England and to understand the views of Subject Leaders for Physical Education with respect to injury risk.

Method: a cross-sectional research study using data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (2000) from 288 state-funded secondary schools.

Results: Rugby Union was delivered in 81% (n = 234 of 288) of state-funded secondary school physical education curricula, including 83% (n = 229 of 275) of state-funded secondary school boys’ and 54% (n = 151 of 282) of girls’ physical education curricular. Rugby Union was compulsory in 91% (n = 208 of 229) of state-funded secondary schools that delivered it as part of the boys’ physical education curriculum and 54% (n = 82 of 151) of state-funded secondary schools that delivered contact Rugby Union as part of the girls’ physical education curriculum. Subject Leaders for Physical Education also perceived Rugby Union to have the highest risk of harm of the activities they delivered in their school physical education curriculum.

Conclusion: Notwithstanding discussions of appropriate measures (i.e., mandatory concussion training, Rugby Union specific qualifications and CPD) to reduce injury risk, it is recommended that Rugby Union should not be a compulsory activity given that it has a perceived high risk of injury and is an unnecessary risk for children in physical education.

Athletes with Neurodegenerative Disease: A Phenomenological Exploration of Family Members’ Experiences

This qualitative study involved in-depth interviews with 15 family members (mainly partners and children) of deceased athletes who experienced deterioration in their neurological health towards the end of their life. The purpose of this study was to examine the stressors these family members experienced with the ailed players, their emotional responses to their family member’s condition, as well as the coping strategies they used. Vertical and horizontal thematic analyses were conducted on the data, which revealed five distinct temporal stages, a range of emotional responses, as well as accompanying stressors and coping strategies at each temporal stage. The findings are presented as an ethnodrama, capturing the lived experiences of participants. This ethnodrama aims to resonate with those caring for family members who are experiencing deteriorating neurological health, while also raising awareness of the various emotional responses of the individuals in these situations, as well as inviting dialogue and reflection about these issues. 

The times are they a-changing? Evolving attitudes in Australian exercise science students’ attitudes towards sports concussion

The issue of concussion in sport continues to be discussed widely in the community as current and retired players reveal personal experiences, and concerns, about the long-term sequelae of their concussive injuries. This is the first study to examine evolving attitudes and beliefs towards concussion in sport by comparing data in an Australian exercise science student cohort between 2015 and 2020. Using a repeated cross-sectional design 1,013 participants (2020 cohort: n = 751; 21.6 ± 7.1 years; 2015 cohort: n = 312; 22.0 ± 5.2 years) responded to statements about concussion: personal attitudes; the media’s portrayal; elite athletes who continue to play concussed; if participants would continue to play on concussed; and on completing rehabilitation for concussion. Comparisons revealed statistically significant differences between cohorts across the majority of statements. Specifically, more progressive attitudes were found regarding the media presentation (glorification) of concussed athletes (decreased agreement of 14.7%, p < 0.001), admiration of concussed athletes who continued to play (decreased agreement of 10.5%, p < 0.001), and rehabilitation (increased agreement of 13%, p < 0.001). However, participants still presented attitudes of wishing to continue to train or play if they had a concussion for fear of letting team-mates down, or if the injury was not noticeable. While positive attitudes are evolving, more work is required, particularly as attitudes towards concussion still appear to be situation dependent.

Effects of stricter management guidelines on return-to-competition timeframes following concussion in professional Australian Rules football: an exploratory analysis

Background: Management of concussion remains a serious issue for professional sports, particularly with the growing knowledge on the consequences of repetitive concussion. One primary concern is the subjective assessment of recovery that dictates the time until a concussed athlete is returned to competition. In response to this concern, the Australian Football League (AFL) changed its policy in 2020 such that medical clearance for return-to-competition was extended from one day, to a minimum of five days, prior to the next scheduled match. 

Objective: We sought to explore the impact of the AFL policy change by asking whether time to return-to-competition after concussion was increased in the 2020 season relative to previous years.

Methods: Retrospective data on injury and return-to-competition were sourced from publicly available tables published by the AFL. Our primary exploration compared the number of matches missed and the number of days missed in concussed players across 2017 to 2020 inclusive, with secondary exploration analysing the proportion of players returning to play 12 days or longer.

Results: Analysis of data from 166 concussed players revealed no increase in the number of matches missed in 2020 relative to previous years as would have been expected from an extended recovery protocol. Comparing 2020 relative to 2017-19 we found that there was an overall moderate reduction in median time to return-to-competition (RTC) in 2020 (10 vs 13 days, respectively d=-0.345)) and a significant reduction in players taking more than 12 days to RTC (p=0.046). 

Conclusion: This exploratory study demonstrates that clubs may not have followed policy change around concussion management designed to increase time to RTC. Ongoing auditing is required to ensure player clearance meets policy goals, highlighting the need for objective measures for RTC after concussion.

Pressure. A Qualitative Analysis of the Perception of Concussion and Injury Risk in Retired Professional Rugby Players

This study interviewed retired professional rugby union players (≤10 years since retirement) to discuss their careers in the game of rugby union. The primary aim of the study was to document their understanding of concussion knowledge and the analogies they use to describe concussion. In addition, these interviews were used to determine any explicit and implicit pressures of playing professional rugby as described by ex-professional rugby players. Overall, 23 retired professional rugby players were interviewed. The participants had played the game of rugby union (n = 23) at elite professional standard. A semi-structured individual interview design was conducted with participants between June to August 2020. The research team reviewed the transcripts to identify the major themes from the interviews using a reflexive thematic analysis approach. Four major themes were identified: (1) medical and theoretical understanding of concussion, (2) descriptions of concussion and disassociated language, (3) personal concussion experience, and (4) peer influences on concussion within the sport. These were further divided into categories and subcategories. The interviews highlighted that players did not fully understand the ramifications of concussive injury and other injury risk, as it became normalised as part of their sport. This normalisation was supported by trivialising the seriousness of concussions and using dismissive language amongst themselves as players, or with coaching staff. As many of these ex-professional players are currently coaching rugby (48%), these interviews could assist coaches in treating concussion as a significant injury and not downplaying the seriousness of concussion in contact sports.

Masculinities, media and the rugby mind: An analysis of stakeholder views on the Relationship between rugby union, the media, masculine-influenced views on injury, and concussion

Rugby union, alongside other collision and contact sports, faces ever mounting pressure from increased recognition of concussive injuries and the risks they present to athletes, both in the short-term and long-term. Here, the media is a central component of increasing pressure for cultural change. This research analysed data from 524 self-selected survey respondents to examine rugby union fans’ and stakeholders’ perceptions of media portrayal of concussion and how it might influence their own perceptions. We found evidence of a complex and heterogenous relationship between perceptions of masculinity, views and attitudes toward mass media, and degree of involvement in rugby union. Specifically, partisans of the sport generally saw mass media as hostile, with coverage biased against rugby, allowing them to manufacture doubt regarding risk information, as well as maintaining involvement in the sport. We conclude that critical commentaries from the media have the ability to challenge masculinities around concussion.

Five-Year Cohort Study of White British Male Student-Athletes' Attitudes towards Gay Men

While sport has traditionally been a hostile environment for gay men, attitudes toward homosexuality among youth in the West have changed significantly in recent years. This research uses Herek’s Attitudes Toward Lesbians and Gay Men Scale, Revised Version (ATLG-R) to investigate attitudes toward homosexuality among 243 undergraduate male students in the UK. Overall, results revealed no significant differences in student attitudes toward gay men in the first three years of data collection, but significantly more positive attitudes onward from the fourth. Overall, incoming attitudinal dispositions of homophobia among young male student-athletes were minimal. Anderson’s notion of inclusive masculinities is used to explain these findings, with the results supporting existing literature concerning positive attitudes toward homosexuality among young, sporting men in the UK.

Decision-making in the physical education curriculum: an analysis of the student voice in English secondary state-schools

Debates surrounding youth participation in governance have permeated a range of fields in the last two decades. This commentary is predominately situated in education and civic participation domains, with sporting domains remaining largely under researched. Indeed, this research becomes sparser when considered in school physical education and sport. In this paper, we consider the position of the student within decision-making processes in the physical education curriculum in English secondary state-schools. The paper reports on survey data from 288 English secondary state-schools exploring students’ involvement in decision-making related to the PE curriculum. Findings show considerable numbers of the schools reported no contribution from students to the physical education curriculum (n=54), and processes that were in place were problematic. Drawing on the legal framework of The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, we argue that the lack of student voice in the physical education curriculum presents a contemporary policy concern within the English education system that requires further investigation.

“Part and parcel of the game?” Physical education teachers, head trauma, and the Rugby Football Union’s "Headcase" initiative

Purpose This article provides an analysis of British physical education (PE) teachers’ knowledge of and attitudes toward concussion in rugby.

Methods Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 qualified PE teachers responsible for rugby delivery in their respective schools (and who also hold a minimum of a Level 2 Rugby Football Union (RFU) accredited coaching award, and have completed the organization’s concussion awareness training initiative, “Headcase”).

Findings Due to the absence of appropriate training – both in coaching qualifications and broader teacher training – these teachers lack understanding of signs, symptoms, and aftercare of suspected concussion. Findings also indicate that “Headcase” may be problematic in providing adequate education to ensure PE teachers are adequately prepared should serious injury arise.

Implications Given the findings of this research, we recommend: (1) “Headcase” be delivered by a qualified practitioner or form a central part of existing coaching qualifications; (2) Mandatory tackle training to be provided to PE teachers; (3) Mandatory injury logs to be kept by every school in order to better understand the frequency of injury in PE.

Examining attitudes towards homosexuality among young, athletic BME men in the UK

This article examines the influence of ethnicity on sporting men’s attitudes towards homosexuality. We employed Herek’s Attitudes Towards Lesbians and Gay Men, Revised Version (ATLG-R) scale to collect data with British undergraduate sports students, as well as interview data with the players of an English Premier League (EPL) football academy, to show that black and minority ethnic (BME) men espouse more conservative attitudes towards homosexuality than their White counterparts. This, we theorize, is attributable to multiple factors, such as socialization into a fundamentalist version of Christianity by family, and the influence of immigration from countries where attitudes towards homosexuality remain more conservative in comparison to the UK. In documenting these findings, this research is consistent with other studies which document higher rates of intolerance among groups of BME men.

Gay male athletes’ coming-out stories on

For two decades, – the world’s first website dedicated to the LGBT+ community’s experiences in sport – has provided sexual minority athletes with the opportunity to share their stories. In this research, we examine the published coming-out narratives of 60 out gay male athletes across a variety of different sports. Our analysis indicates that, prior to coming-out, many of these athletes felt the need to adopt an identity predicated on masculine stereotypes, thus distancing themselves from homosexuality. Upon coming-out to teammates, however, most of these athletes experienced acceptance and inclusivity which, in turn, led to improved health and wellbeing. Additionally, we document the changing nature of homosexually themed language on these men’s sports teams. Finally, we recognize the importance of mediums such as Outsports in providing athletes across the world the opportunity to share their coming-out stories. Accordingly, this research advances a body of evidence documenting sport’s growing inclusivity for the LGBT+ community.

Duty of Karius: media framing of concussion following the 2018 UEFA Champions League Final

Concussion is a growing issue within sport, including within soccer. Despite the developing medical understanding of concussion, there is still an array of sociocultural discourses and misconceptions around it. In the 2018 UEFA Champions League Final, Liverpool Football Club goalkeeper Loris Karius suffered a head collision in the 48th minute. Postmatch, he was subsequently diagnosed as being concussed. As a result of his concussion, Karius’ performance was arguably impeded, with suggestions that this may have resulted in him making some key errors in the game. Through an analysis of media framing in 52 news articles in the days following the incident, four dominant frames were identified: deflection away from concussion, misunderstanding concussion, education on concussion, and recommendations. Frames that focussed on the lack of awareness and preventative measures that are present in soccer served to highlight the lack of significance afforded to concussion at this particular point in time. In particular, we highlight differences in concussion discourses between those working inside and outside the soccer industry. Overall, these findings contribute to the growing body of sociological work examining concussion in sport.

Ethics and injury risk in World Rugby and England Rugby tackle-height trial

Concerns about concussion in contact sport have permeated debate within sports medicine. Considerable scientific attention has been focussed on the short-term and long-term outcomes of concussions, as well as the strategies to reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury. The practicalities and impact of altering rules (laws) in sport—including the evaluation of outcomes—are often considered. In the elite setting, World Rugby recently opted to lower the permitted tackle height in Championship Rugby. We believe this research intervention raises some ethical questions around informed consent and the right to withdraw, since the players were contractually compelled to participate. Unfortunately, rather than reducing injury risk, this research intervention also resulted in an increased risk of concussion. Thus, we alert the reader to issues relating to the ethics and increased risk of injury following this research intervention and make some recommendations for the future. 


Diversity and representation in sport governing bodies has become an issue for both public discussion and academic debate in recent times. Previous work has primarily centered on gender inequalities within the forever changing masculine terrain of sport. However, no work has yet examined the representation and participation of young people in the decision-making structures of sporting bodies. This paper holds up England’s Rugby Union for organizational analysis, using the notion of homologous reproduction as a heuristic framework. In doing so, it explores the reproduction of this governing body for the systematic exclusion of young people in decision-making processes over the last few decades. This framework is then twined with Article 11 of the United Nation’s Convention for the Rights of the Child, to make the case that the RFU desires homologous reproduction in order to avoid dealing with what youth are currently concerned with –head injuries. Given such a high proportion of rugby’s participants being under twenty-five years of age, we conclude the lack of young people within the decision-making process represents a form of willful discrimination.

Reproduction in physical education, society and culture: the physical education curriculum and stratification of social class in England

In contemporary British society, discussions of social class have become relatively marginalised in comparison to their historically eminent position within the domains of politics, social policy and, the specific focus of the forthcoming discussion, education. However, within the specific field of PE and sport, contemporary academic analyses have continued to highlight various class-based inequalities and evidence of social stratification in relation to these areas of education and society. In light of this, this study seeks to explore the extent to which social class and socio-economic status are evident within the provision of PE within 288 English state secondary education schools (11–18 years of age), drawing upon the findings of a large-scale survey of the activities and qualifications offered within the PE curriculum at each sample school. Using publicly available data on the comparative provision levels of ‘free school meals’ (henceforth FSM) for pupils as an approximate indicator of the relative levels of socio-economic demographics for each sample school, this study seeks to explore how English state schools with contrasting levels of socio-economic deprivation cater for their students within their PE curriculum. The emergent results revealed some trends in the relative provision levels of certain activities across schools in different FSM quartiles, with activities such as rugby union, rugby league, Gaelic football, tennis, and field hockey demonstrating stratified provision, as was the case for the provision of accredited academic and vocational qualifications in PE and sport. These complex and nuanced findings are then critiqued by drawing upon a Bourdieusian theoretical conceptualisation of social class, utilising a number of theoretical concepts derived from Bourdieu’s past analyses of education and sport to critically reflect upon the validity of his theoretical claims when applied to this specific data set.

Still an Occupational Hazard? The Relationship between Homophobia, Heteronormativity, Student Learning and Performance, and an Openly Gay University Lecturer

This study examined the complex relationship between homophobia, heteronormativity, and an openly gay lecturer in a British university setting. First, heterosexual undergraduate sports students’ levels of homophobia were recorded. Then, after taught sessions, participants were asked to estimate the frequency of homosexual-heterosexual examples and content used, as well as to complete tests to measure academic progress. This was followed by an end-of-course examination. Results indicated (a) no relationship between levels of homophobia and levels of heteronormativity; (b) that levels of heteronormativity and homophobia were unrelated to a student’s ability to learn from an openly gay lecturer or their examination performance; (c) the presence of an openly gay lecturer significantly reduced homophobia among undergraduate students. These findings offer support to gay educators by highlighting the minimal impact on student learning and performance from being open about their sexuality. Instead, these results suggest that being open about homosexuality could reduce homophobia among undergraduate students.

The experiences of lesbian, gay and bisexual students and staff at a Further Education college in South East England

Research exploring the educational experiences of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) students and staff members has traditionally been characterised by homophobia, hostility, victimisation and marginalisation. Recent research has evidenced a shift in the experiences of LGB young people, to somewhat more accepting and positive narratives, including within post-compulsory schooling. Yet, there is limited research exploring the lived experiences of LGB staff members in the Further Education context. Utilising inclusive masculinity as a sociological paradigm, this research explores the qualitative data from the narratives of 26 LGB staff and students at one Further Education college in the south of England. The results find a distinct lack of homophobia within this college, a nuanced understanding of homosexually themed language, and an organisational culture of inclusivity and widespread symbolic visibility of the LGB community. Overall, our research aligns with broader social patterns that the experiences for LGB persons is improving.

‘Pre-activity movement control exercise programme to prevent injuries in youth rugby’: some concerns

All efforts to reduce injuries in school rugby are welcome and the cluster randomised controlled trial by Hislop and colleagues deserves attention.1 Here, the authors presented a preactivity exercise programme that trained strength, agility and balance, with reductions in time-loss injuries and concussions claimed. Yet we highlight fiveprimary concerns that arise from this study, which are particularly important given that the programme is now being implemented nationally.2

Consent and Brain Trauma in Schools

Since contact sports such as American football, ice hockey and rugby have a high risk of injury and those injuries have potential long-term implications, both young people and their parent(s) or guardian(s) should be required to give informed consent before participation.

Tackling in physical education rugby: an unnecessary risk?

Since 2016, we have been strong advocates for the removal of tackling from rugby (League and Union) played in school physical education in the UK.1 This is because (A) tackling is the leading cause of injury in rugby, (B) rugby has a level of risk that is higher than non-contact sports, (C) there is no requirement or need for tackling as part of the school physical education curriculum, and (D) many children are compelled to participate in contact rugby.2 In response to this call, the Chief Medical Officers and the Physical Activity Expert Group commented: ‘The Committee reject the call to ban tackling, as they do not feel rugby participation poses an unacceptable risk of harm.’3 Yet, the notion of risk (un)acceptability is a construct that needs further discussion, which we will start here.4


In this research, utilizing data from thirty semistructured interviews, we examine how heterosexual undergraduate men compare their experiences of bromances to that of their romantic relationships (romances). We find that the increasingly intimate, emotive, and trusting nature of bromances offers young men a new social space for emotional disclosure, outside of traditional heterosexual relationships. Participants state that the lack of boundaries and judgment in a bromance is expressed as emotionally rivalling the benefits of a heterosexual romance. Our participants mostly determined that a bromance offered them elevated emotional stability, enhanced emotional disclosure, social fulfilment, and better conflict resolution, compared to the emotional lives they shared with girlfriends. Thus, this research provides an empirically grounded conceptual framework for understanding men’s view of close homosocial relationships in comparison to their romantic relationship in the twenty-first century.


In a paper published in BJSM (June 2016), World Rugby employees Ross Tucker and Martin Raftery and a third coauthor Evert Verhagen took issue with the recent call to ban tackling in school rugby in the UK and Ireland. That call (to ban tackling) was supported by a systematic review published in BJSM. Tucker et alclaim that: (1) the mechanisms and risk factors for injury along with the incidence and severity of injury in youth rugby union have not been thoroughly identified or understood; (2) rugby players are at no greater risk of injury than other sports people, (3) this is particularly the case for children under 15 years and (4) removing the opportunity to learn the tackle from school pupils might increase rates of injuries. They conclude that a ban ‘may be unnecessary and may also lead to unintended consequences such as an increase in the risk of injury later in participation.’ Here we aim to rebut the case by Tucker et al. We share new research that extends the findings of our original systematic review and meta-analysis. A cautionary approach requires the removal of the tackle from school rugby as the quickest and most effective method of reducing high injury rates in youth rugby, a public health priority.


In a recent BJSM editorial, it was stated that ‘shutting down youth sports programmes’ is not the answer to injury concerns in contact sport, suggesting there may be unintended consequences, such as increasing sedentary behaviour.1 With physical inactivity a leading cause of mortality, concerns about decreasing participation in physical activity are justified. This issue has even been discussed in a previous editorial in the BJSM.2 There is no evidence, however, to suggest that collision sports (specifically) are necessary to combat sedentary lifestyles of youth. There also continues to be a distinct misunderstanding of what has been called for in regards to the banning of tackling in school rugby, which will now be clarified.

The Bromance: Undergraduate Male Friendships and the Expansion of Contemporary Homosocial Boundaries

The present study provides the first known qualitative examination of heterosexual undergraduate men’s conceptualization and experiences of the bromance, outside research on cinematic representations. Drawing on semi-structured interviews with 30 undergraduate men enrolled in one of four undergraduate sport-degree programs at one university in the United Kingdom, we find these heterosexual men to be less reliant on traditional homosocial boundaries, which have previously limited male same-sex friendships. Contrary to the repressive homosociality of the 1980s and 1990s, these men embrace a significantly more inclusive, tactile, and emotionally diverse approach to their homosocial relationships. All participants provided comparable definitions of what a bromance is and how it operates, all had at least one bromantic friend, and all suggested that bromances had more to offer than a standard friendship. Participants described a bromance as being more emotionally intimate, physically demonstrative, and based upon unrivalled trust and cohesion compared to their other friendships. Participants used their experiences with romances and familial relations as a reference point for considering the conditions of a bromance. Results support the view that declining homophobia and its internalization has had significantly positive implications for male expression and intimacy. Conclusions are made about the bromance’s potential to improve men’s mental health and social well-being because participants indicate these relationships provide a space for emotional disclosure and the discussion of potentially traumatic and sensitive issues.


The social function of sport has traditionally been to develop an economically efficient workforce and to prevent young men from becoming effeminate, and by extension homosexual. However, since the 1980s both the social positioning of homosexuality has changed, as has the economic requirements of the Anglo-American workforce. As such, the social function of contemporary sport is negated. With modern athletes now opting for softer masculine presentations, we start the debate on the intersection of sport, health, and inclusive masculinities, an area lacking scholarly attention so far. Through exploring masculinity-challenging discourses, participation rates and athletes’ self-withdrawal from sport when injured, we begin to theorize how modern athletes may view potentially risky and injurious sporting activities, showing that boys today are less inclined to engage in injurious activities, and, when they do, opting for softer and safer strategies.


The research uses discourse analysis, and inclusive masculinity theory, in order to explore and explain the construction of esteemed and subjugated masculinities within the context of Australia's National Rugby League's (NRL) Footy Show. Results suggest that despite previous research on NRL players which finds inclusive masculinities dominate, this television show instead attempts to construct orthodox versions of masculinity. We suggest that the Footy Show thus operates in something of a liminal state, attempting to portray and construct orthodox masculinities against social trends of inclusive masculinities. Sociological Research Online (2016) 


In an effort to pre-empt serious injury in field hockey, this editorial examines the penalty corner in the sport. Specifically, the potential risk of serious head injury is highlighted, with structural changes that could make the sport safer also discussed.


A recent BJSM editorial argued that ‘turning people into couch potatoes is not the cure for sports concussion’.1 Specifically, it was noted how heightened anxiety over sports concussion has caused participation levels to fall; that concussions are common in contact sports; and that there remains a need for the development of specific concussion management protocols targeted at each level of the game. In this response, the evidence to support each of these contentions is examined. A case for directing attention away from concussion management and towards the prevention of concussions in sport is also stated.


Physical education (PE) and sport have traditionally been identified by scholars as a key mechanism for the production and reproduction of a culturally esteemed ideal of masculinity, premised upon being stoic, strong, competitive, sexist and homophobic. Yet, more recent research reflects a change in valued masculinity as a response to declining cultural homohysteria. As such, this preliminary study looks to establish how PE teachers understand and construct masculinities within the educational environment. Through in-depth interviews, we find participants recognised many elements of softer masculinities, described in inclusive masculinities literature, as being performed by contemporary teenagers. This includes being emotionally open, embracing a more effeminate taste in dress and being increasingly physically tactile. However, we also found that the PE teachers have a cohort variance in their masculine values, with those socialised in sport through the 1980s showing the most orthodox and oppressive views.


Sport’s utility in the development of a conservative orthodox ideal of masculinity based upon homophobia, aggression and emotional restrictiveness is well evidenced in critical masculinities scholarship. However, contemporary research is reflecting a more nuanced understanding of male behaviour in many Western contexts, with men performing softer and more inclusive versions of masculinities. Through exploring the experiences of twelve Australian contact sport athletes, this research establishes findings to support the growing body of inclusive masculinities research. Results show that these men value a softer representation of masculinity based upon pro-gay sentiments and being emotionally open, while often being critical of aspects of orthodox masculinities which male team sport previously promoted.


© Copyright Adam John White