Doctor and activist

Regulating fighting

20 June 2016

The Queensland Parliamentary Finance and Administration Committee has reported on the need for regulation of contact sports  in Queensland.  It resolved to do nothing!  Currently only Qld and Northern Territory are ‘self regulating’. 

There were 8 submissions, 3 from medical associations, (AMA College of Surgeons, and Qld Brain Institute), 4 were from sports association and one was from a doctor.  4 were in favour of self-regulation and 2 wanted a Commission to regulate contact sports. 

There had been 2 deaths from boxing in the period 2000-2106, but interestingly ’22 deaths from natural causes related to combat sports’ of which 4 had ‘unknown causes’. Of 7 deaths related to combat sports 4 were from being ‘struck to the head’ and 3 from ‘hitting the floor’.  3 were from boxing, with one each from kickboxing-freestyle, wrestling, karate and unspecified.

In NSW, where there is regulation, certain sports events have to have permission, and the annual cost of the Committee of up to 7 members to include a police, legal and medical representative is $650,000.

The AMA takes the view that blows to the head do harm and that boxing should be banned under the age of 18 and discontinued as an Olympic and Commonwealth Games sport.  Their 2015 statement extended this to other similar contact sports.

The report had an Appendix with quite a good summary of the regulatory position in the other states.  There is no data on how effective the regulations are.

Despite the medical position and the deaths as above, the only conclusion is:

Committee comment

A majority of the committee members consider that there is no demonstrated need for this inquiry at this time and the committee has resolved to take no further action on this inquiry.

Interestingly the Chair of the Committee Peter Russo MP wrote a dissenting report and would like a Commission to regulate contact sports.  He pointed out that the Parliament is delicately balanced, as was the Committee.  Tied votes are resolved in the negative and the Chair did not have a casting vote. 

It does seem to me that the policy approach should be discourage fighting at a regulatory level, stopping short of a ban that might drive it underground.  This is similar to drug policy.  I was not clear on how the numbers of deaths were calculated or recorded.  The report is at:

Arthur Chesterfield-Evans

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