Time to ban kids' boxing?

The divisive sport takes a blow from pediatricians. But will prohibiting it do more harm than good?

Pediatrics say boxing is too dangerous for young brains and bodies, but advocates say the sport isn't all about blows to the head.
(Image credit: Image Source/Corbis)

Boxing can offer teens an alternative to street life and gangs — but it can also be dangerous. Citing the risk of everything from concussions and brain injuries to dietary issues, the American Academy of Pediatrics is renewing its call to ban boxing for kids 19 and under. The move has incited "fierce resistance" from the boxing community — advocates say the seemingly violent sport teaches discipline and a work ethic to the 18,000 U.S. children and teenagers registered to compete. But is a sport that involves "deliberate blows to the head" just too dangerous for kids' growing brains and bodies?

Yes. The damage boxing can do is clear: I love boxing, says Janelle Harris at The Stir, but there is no way my son or daughter is going "anywhere near anybody's boxing ring." The evidence can be seen in the faces and movements of retired boxers. The best of them, like Sugar Ray Leonard, may be sharp, but they are still slow. Others have fared worse and have even died from boxing-related health complications.

"Some sports are too rough for even the toughest kids to play"

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Boxing is one of the safer sports out there: There's a reason why boxing is called "the sweet science," says Earl McRae at Slam Sports. It's about precision, skill, and strategy, not just blows to the head. Besides, strict regulations — such as shock-absorbing head gear, gloves, and limited time in the ring — help protect amateur boxers. "This bunch of whiny hand-wringers" just don't understand the sport.

"Kids boxing ban ludicrous"

This is just the beginning for kids' sport bans: Boxing isn't the only sport with a focus on head injuries, says Bob Cook at Forbes. What about other collision sports like football and ice hockey? Sure, "injuring your opponent might not be the stated object of those games — but players don't exactly get discouraged by their coaches and others for doing so." If this ban goes through, other sports are sure to follow.

"Pediatricians try to knock out youth boxing — but should other concussion-intensive sports watch out?"

To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us