“There is a tension, apparent throughout this enquiry, between the certainty among campaigners and the press that sport has a problem and the uncertainty in the science of what is causing that problem“
So opens the report published this week by the House of Commons Select Committee for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport following its extensive investigation into concussion in sport. The tension set out above is hardly eased by the immediate observation that “current scientific knowledge does not demonstrate a causal link between particular sporting activities and later development of dementia.”
Despite the amount of evidence the Committee considered, both from oral hearings and written submissions (all of which are linked in the report) it is a relatively brief output. Although there are several recommendations, some with a specified time frame, there is no clarity as to the extent of the “problem” and, for me at least, a sense of this phase coming to its close rather than moving issues significantly forward.
In the morning of Tuesday 25 May Minister for Sport Nigel Huddleston MP appeared before the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee for the last of its oral evidence sessions in the concussion in sport inquiry. He gave an assured performance and offered some useful indications that his Department’s (DCMS) engagement on this important topic was covering very similar concerns to those of the Committee and was focused on the better coordination of medical research, the use of technology, and on education for amateur and elite players. My colleague David Spencer, BLM’s Head of Sport, has reported on the outcome of each of the previous oral evidence sessions, which you can read on the blog here.
The Digital Media Culture and Sport Select Committee’s (DMCSSC) fourth formal meeting took place on 18 May to address concussion in sport, the recording of which can be accessed here.
There remains no confirmed date for publication of the Committee’s report, nor any hint that further oral hearings will take place; in fact, the inquiry’s web page still refers to it being heard over two sessions. This fourth session adopted a more relaxed approach than we have previously seen, with a reduced panel of witnesses and a shorter session concluded by evidence from another inquiry. Overall, it gives the impression that the evidence gathering phase is slowing to a stop.