Q. Love of the Game. What’s it about and why did you set it up?
A. It all came about, I guess two years ago. I was having a conversation with Laurence Geller CBE, Chairman of the campaign, over a glass or two of red wine. We already had a mutual interest in philanthropy and rugby through other rugby-associated ventures. Laurence was interested in the impact of concussion in sport and how that had apparently got worse over time in modern day rugby (and test matches) and he had a concern through his business interests in dementia care homes.
Sport has the power to bring people together. Being a fan inherently gives you something in common with others, a shared love of the game, of the players and for the excitement of week after week watching every kick, tackle, jump or shot from the edge of our seats.
The players that make our favourite sports so thrilling and competitive, from village pitches to national stadiums, put their bodies on the line for every point, for the good of their team, and for us, the fans.
It is with this love of sport in mind that makes the honesty of players about their fear of the long-term impact of concussion and its links to dementia so poignant. Just this week, former England captain Gary Lineker has called for an end to heading in training following landmark research which showed that ex-professionals are at a 350% increased risk of dying from a neurological disease and how hundreds of former players, including five members of England’s 1966 World Cup winning team, have been diagnosed with dementia. This particular story relates to football, but the message resonates across sports and the desperate need for action is universal.
Love of the Game represents a meeting of minds from across sport, science, business, technology and government. With an open-source approach to information sharing and an unwavering focus on driving actionable solutions, the initiative will address the following three pillars of engagement:
• Reduce risk to players and speed recovery • Reduce risk of early onset dementia in athletes • Maintain sports as we know and love them • Reduce fear of taking part • Lengthen sporting careers • Encourage inter-sport collaboration on concussion-related issues
We are an impassioned group of athletes, players, fans, medics and innovators, united by our love of sport and the desire to protect players of all ages from the potentially devastating impact of concussion and other head injuries, in so doing, we also protect the sports we love.
Love of the Game (LOTG) is a campaign to reduce concussion-related issues across sport. LOTG takes a solutions-based approach, it develops rapid actionable technologies that prevent, diagnose and treat head injuries in sport.
“As a former sportsperson competing at the highest level on the international stage, I’ve seen the impact of head injuries on those around me – and also felt it myself.
Sadly, too often it’s only after your career that you reflect on the risks taken and the damage you may have done to yourself. This is too late, particularly when it comes to our most important organ: our brains.
The long-term impact of head-related traumas due to the effects of concussions and other head injuries happens across many sports: rugby, football, cricket, horse racing, boxing, hockey and more. This is why Love of the Game doesn’t work in silos, but brings people together from across the sporting landscape – and further afield – to develop solutions, so that we can protect our players and protect our games.”
“As a keen ex-rugby player, sports lover and dementia campaigner, who has seen first-hand the debilitating effects of dementia, witnessing the impact of concussion and other head-related injuries on players of all ages across all sports is deeply concerning –for them as individuals, their families and also for the future of sport more broadly.
Love of the Game is about bringing together my passion for sport and dementia research to drive awareness in and funding of specialist scientific, technological and medical solutions that will help prevent, diagnose, and treat those suffering. We have an opportunity to unite the best from the worlds of sport, science, business and government to tackle the most existential threat to our sports in a generation. Through Love of the Game we will protect our players and protect our games.”