In recent years there has been a significant increase in the scrutiny of head trauma in football. This attention is due largely to a host of studies that have been highly publicized and linked the repetitive head trauma in football to late-life neurological impairment. Scientists and physicians familiar with boxing have been aware of such impairment, resulting from repeated head impacts, for more than 80 years. Few, however, made the connection between the similarity of head impacts in boxing and football until recent decades. This article examines the medical and scientific literature related to head trauma in both boxing and football, paying particular attention to the different emphases of that research. Further, the literature is used to trace the understanding of sport-related chronic head trauma as well as how that understanding has prompted reform efforts in each sport. Finally, in light of the current understanding of the long-term sequelae of repetitive head trauma, some consideration is given to what football administrators can learn from the reform efforts in boxing.
Shurley is with the Dept. of Kinesiology, Concordia University–Texas, Austin, TX. Todd is with the Dept. of Kinesiology and Health Education, The University of Texas at Austin. Todd can be reached at NEZ 5.700, Kinesiology & Health Ed, University of Texas, Austin, 78712.