The term contact sports is used in competitive activities and medical terminology to describe sports in which players may directly or indirectly have physical contact with an opponent. Some sports, such as martial arts, are scored on impacting on an opponent, while others, including rugby football, require tackling of players for the game to be played fully. These sports are often known as full-contact, as the sport cannot be undertaken without contact. Other sports have contact, but such events are illegal under the rules of the game or are accidental and do not form part of the sport.
The contact in contact sports can also include impact via a piece of sporting equipment, such as being struck by a hockey stick or football. Non-contact sports are those where participants should have no possible means of impact, such as sprinting, swimming, darts or snooker, where players use separate lanes or take turns of play. Consideration should also be given to other sports such as Moto-cross and Bicycle Moto-cross (BMX) and Cycling which all involve riding/racing in packs of riders. This often results in crashing, and possible head injury. Even though these riders wear helmets, head injuries can be serious.
Terminology in the United States
Current medical terminology in the United States uses the term collision sport rather than contact sport to refer to sports like rugby, American football, ice hockey and lacrosse. The term contact sport is used to refer to sports, such as soccer that allow limited contact. For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement in 2001 entitled "Medical Conditions Affecting Sports Participation" that included the following definitions:
In "collision" sports (such as boxing, football and rodeo), athletes purposely hit or collide with each other or inanimate objects, including the ground, with great force. In "contact" sports (such as basketball), athletes routinely make contact with each other or inanimate objects but usually with less force than in collision sports.
This terminology may have evolved from a quote attributed to both Vince Lombardi and Duffy Daugherty: "Football isn't a contact sport; it's a collision sport. Dancing is a contact sport."
Injuries and legal issues
Many sports will penalize contact sport with the rules for certain situations or instances to help reduce the incidence of physical trauma or litigation for assault or grievous bodily harm. Many sports involve a degree of player-to-player or player-to-object contact. The term "contact sport" is used in both team sports and combat activities, medical terminology and television game shows, such as American Gladiators and Wipeout, to certain degrees. Contact between players is often classed by different grades ranging from non-contact, where there is no contact between players, to full-contact or collision sports, where the rules allow for significant physical contact.
Injuries in some contact sports have been fatal. In April 2013 the grandson of a rugby league legend died due to injuries suffered in the game. Injury rates in professional rugby league are higher than in some other contact sports.
As a result of the risk of injury, some sports require the use of protective equipment, for example American football protective equipment. Some sports are also played on soft ground and have padding on physical obstacles, such as goal posts.
The cost of equipment can be an obstacle to participating in many sports.
Because of issues involved with any sport that involves rapid contact, many sports governing bodies are changing their rules to decrease the incidence of serious injury. An example of this is the NFL banning concussed players from re-entering the same game they were injured during in order to decrease.
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A (full) contact sport is any sport for which significant physical impact force on players, either deliberate or incidental, is allowed for within the rules of the game.
Examples of contact sports are Australian rules football, lacrosse, rugby league, Rugby Union , American football, water polo, wrestling, sumo, team handball, slamball and ice hockey. Full-contact martial arts include boxing, mixed martial arts, taekwondo (under WTF rules), jujutsu, muay Thai, judo, and various forms of full contact karate. Also, kickboxing, in the early 1970s in the United States, was born and introduced a controlled version of full contact to martial arts.
A semi-contact sport is typically a combat sport involving striking and containing physical contact between the combatants simulating full-power techniques. The techniques are restricted to limited power, and rendering the opponent unconscious is forbidden.
Some semi-contact sports use a point system to determine the winner and use extensive protective gear to protect the athletes from injury. Examples of semi-contact sports include karate, kickboxing, various styles of kung fu that incorporate contact rules sparring, and kendo.
Another indicator of a semi-contact martial arts competition system is that after a point is rewarded the adversaries will be separated and resume the match from safe distance, but often it is possible to argue if some martial arts sports belong in one contact group or another.
Limited-contact sports are sports for which the rules are specifically designed to prevent contact between players either intentionally or unintentionally. Contact can still happen, but penalties are often used to disallow substantial contact between players. These penalties, including physically removing players from the field of play, mean that contact is moderate or rare.
Non-contact sports are sports where participants compete alternately in lanes or are physically separated such as to make nearly impossible for them to make contact during the course of a game without committing an out-of-bounds offense or, more likely, disqualification. Examples include precision sports such as golf, curling, bodybuilding, tennis, cricket, volleyball, swimming, sprinting, and gymnastics.
However, there is still opportunity for indirect contact, such as being hit with a ball, whether deliberately or not. Most notably, in cricket, players can intentionally hit another players with the ball (bodyline or bouncers), which can often cause injury similar or worse in severity to those suffered in full contact sports or some limited contact sports.
- "My Thoughts on Sports". mythoughtsonsports. Retrieved 2009-04-25.
- "Duffy Daugherty quotes". thinkexist. Retrieved 2009-04-25.
- Megan Levy (2013). "Grandson of league legend suffers 'freak' accident as family decides to switch off life support". Retrieved 2013-04-08.
- Gissane C, Jennings D, Kerr K, White JA. (2002). "A pooled data analysis of injury incidence in rugby league football.". Retrieved 2013-04-08.