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.
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
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.
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.
Create an account with the same email registered to your subscription to unlock access.