Watching an U15 AFL game on a sunny autumnal afternoon a pre pubertal lad who was about 4ft tall captured the attention. Throwing himself into the fray, without regard for his safety, he reminded me of a teddy bear caught in a pillow fight. He was buffeted, disregarded, squashed, and trodden on. But he never gave up. He would emerge with the ball dish off a handball and his little legs would rush him to the next contest. Cheers from the sideline.
He wore a helmet.
It seems like common sense, a boy so small should wear a helmet. But this has not been supported by evidence. Head injuries such as concussion are not prevented by wearing helmets. In fact there is an increased chance of concussion, neck and other injuries as players tend to disregard their own safety when wearing helmets. A kind of invincibility. Teddy’s kamikaze style certainly backed this up. This is why the current AFL policy is against helmets in junior football.
Helmets do protect against serious head injuries in high collision sports such as cycling, skiing, and snowboarding, which is why they are compulsory in many countries. But in football the chance of serious head injuries is extremely slim, even in senior competitions.
Concussion is a problem in football and probably is under reported. But until a helmet design prevents this they are not recommended.