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.
On this occasion, as fans, we’re part of the team. It is in all of our hands to facilitate meaningful change to protect players now, without jeopardising the sports we love. Love of the Game (LOTG) is one such community focused on convening experts and enthusiasts from across sports to investigate and develop actionable solutions and it welcomes your support!
As a first step, LOTG (in collaboration with Hacking Health UK and supported by the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation) is hosting the UK’s first ‘Hakathon’ focused on sport (26-28 March 2021). Aimed at bringing the brightest minds across the design (both user experience and product), developer and engineering worlds together with amateur and professional sports people, academics and researchers in the sport health fields; to create solutions that diagnose, grade, treat and develop solutions for return to play, in order to mitigate the effects of head injuries and concussion within sports.
Over the course of the 2.5 day event the hackathon participants will connect with, and form cross-disciplinary teams, combining their knowledge to create innovations that have real world applications that will improve the lives of those that love and play sports. Winning teams will receive funding to further develop their ideas.
From oxygen therapy and cooling devices to saliva tests and mouthguards with sensors, there is a plethora of exciting innovations already underway and LOTG is incredibly excited to see what the participants in the hackathon bring to the table.
Sports fans are no longer simply united by their love of the game, they also must come together to protect players of all ages from the potentially devastating impact of head injuries. The opportunity to make a positive impact is in our hands and the time to demand and deliver change is now.