Combat sports are government regulated in the US and Canada.
If you want to fight you need to be licenced by an athletic commission. If you want to be a second you need to be licensed. If you want to promote fights you need to be licensed. If you want to manage the career of a fighter you (in many jurisdictions) need to be licenced. If you want to be a matchmaker and decide who should fight who you need to be licensed.
But you don’t need to know a single thing about brain trauma. Nada. Nothing.
What is CTE? How is it acquired? What are the long term consequences of living with the disease? What is a concussion? When is it safe to return to sport following a concussion? What do repetitive sub concussive hits do to the brain? What are signs of too much cumulative damage? Does headgear prevent or reduce concussions? Can you suffer too much career brain damage without showing any signs?
You don’t have to know a single answer to the above questions to be licensed in combative sports. You don’t need to know a single answer to the above questions to be appointed an athletic commissioner in charge of all combative sports in your jurisdiction.
Combat sports are dangerous. People that choose to be involved in the dangerous industry should have informed consent of the harms of the profession. Athletic Commissions, with a monopoly on licencing, are the gate keeper deciding who gets to be involved and what level of competence they must demonstrate.
A recent study found that “Merely 5.7% of (combat sports) coaches properly recognized the level of traumatic brain injury a concussion represents“. And further that “athletes who were aware of the level of brain injury a concussion represents performed fewer sparring sessions per week and had a greater likelihood of reporting concussive episodes“.
Imagine licencing any other profession and not requiring basic knowledge of the biggest dangers of the industry? Here’s your certification to be an electrician. What? Electrocution? Don’t worry about that nonsense. That’s only for wimps who can’t cut it in this trade!
Is it time for commissions to require baseline brain injury knowledge as part of the licencing process?
It is a small step that can go a long way in improving health and safety in this dangerous industry.