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The Dangers of Football.

On the interesting and important question as to whether football is dangerous and demoralising, a representative of the * Pall Mall Gazette' sought an interview with Mr N. L. Jackson, a gentleman who, as a member of the Council of the Football Association, and the honorary secretary of the Corinthian Club, is intimately connected with the game, and who, as a journalist and the editor of ' Pastime,' has done much to popularise it. In reply to an inquiry whether football is to be considered a dangerous game, Mr Jackson at once plunged in medias res. He said : " I do not think football deserves to be called dangerous. After all, the percentage of football accidents is very small. At the lowest estimate more than 250,000 players turn out every Saturday in the United Kingdom. Allowing for extra games, we may multiply the number by thirty, which gives 7,500,000 separate individual risks for each season. You will readily see that the accidents of all kinds bear to this total a most insignificant ratio." " What is your own experience ?" " Well, I have been closely connected with football for the last twenty-three years. During that time I have seen or taken part in about forty matches annually on the average, and yet I have only been an eyewitness of five casualties—two broken legs, a dislocated ankle, and two broken collarbones. The collar-bones, I think, may almost be left out of account as too trifling injuries to be worth mention." "But is it not true that the game is becoming more dangerous !" " Certainly not. I have read the article of *A Football Reporter' in last Saturday's ' Pall Mall Gazette,' but I cannot subscribe to his assertion that there is an increasingtendency to play the man instead of the ball. On the contrary, I think tho game has improved in this respect. In the old days a player would keep the ball until it was taken from him, and it was generally absolutely necessary for his opponents to charge him, while hia own side would back him up in a body. But since * passing' has come into fashion and science has increased, a good player avoids the risk of a charge by transferring the ball to a friend as soon as he is checked. The Rugby game has also been vastly improved by alterations in the rules." "How, then, do yon_ account for the number of casualties that have been reported this winter ?" "Well, in the first place, I do not admit that they have been more numerous than usual. There is no doubt that greater prominence has been given to these in the newspapers ; and when, as often happens, several men are hurt in different parts of the country in the same week, people are alarmed, althsugh the average of the whole season may have been a very low one. In the second place, it must be borne in mind that the number of players has rapidly increased of late years and is still increasing." "Cannot anything be done to make the game safer?" " A good deal has been done both by the Rugby Union and the Football Association. There are undoubtedly some districts where rough play is encouraged by the spectators, but such cases are comparatively rare, and only occur where the game has been newly introduced, and science is not yet fully appreciated."

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The Dangers of Football., Evening Star, Issue 7917, 27 May 1889

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The Dangers of Football. Evening Star, Issue 7917, 27 May 1889