Sport professionals are physically conditioned and mentally toughened to play contact sport at higher levels of intensity than those who take part “for the love of the game.” As part of contracting (for financial reward),  professionals agree to perform at heightened and sustained levels of physical stress, in order to deliver an entertaining spectacle for the crowd.

Where sports actively promote community participation with demonstrations of elite performance, there is an increased likelihood that some “weekend warriors” will seek the emulate that performance on community sportsgrounds, potentially placing themselves (and others) at increased risk of accidental physical harm.

“Rules” play a pivotal role in ensuring that risk is minimised, which is why sports’ governors must take specific steps to identify where amateurs may experience danger that (while acceptable for “professional gladiators”) is entirely unreasonable for “weekend warriors” to face.

(Rules applied in the professional arena may not be suitable in the community game)

A Canadian report on “violence in sport,” observes that “one of the key obligations of a sport organisation is to ensure a safe sport environment – for both athletes and spectators. In many sports a certain level of violence is desirable and is, in fact, an inherent part of the sport. When one participates in such activities it is done with the knowledge and understanding that a certain amount of violence may occur and that injury may happen. However, by simply participating in a sport, the athlete does not consent to all forms of violent activity.”

(There is a need for a courageous review of policy relating to contact sports)

The report emphasises the need for effective policy, noting that “to be effective such a concerted policy response must come both from the top (that is, from a national perspective) and from the grassroots (that is, from individual organisations and clubs). The amateur sport community as a whole, needs to take and promote a position on violence in sport.” That position does not simply relate to ensuring that “the Rules of the game” are fit for purpose, but also to informing the attitudes of those responsible for delivering the game at the community level. With community sport increasingly being considered as “a pathway” to professional success, the line between participation-for-enjoyment and win-at-all-costs is becoming increasingly blurred, placing all participants at greater risk in terms of "how the game is played", and potentially turning many away from continuing their on-field involvement in the sport.

You can read more here.