Concussion Experts Pick Apart The Myth That Cycling Is More Dangerous Than Football


The idea that bicycling might be more dangerous than football crept back into the national consciousness this week after an NFL-affiliated doctor named Joseph Maroon suggested as much during an appearance on the NFL Network.

“It’s much more dangerous riding a bike or a skateboard than playing youth football,” said Maroon, who is a consultant to the NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ team neurosurgeon.

Listen to the full interview here. (Source: SoundCloud)

It’s a startling claim, especially considering the number of parents who fear the effect football could have on their children. But when The Huffington Post contacted four concussion experts this week, they all either denied the comparison outright or described it as false or difficult to make.

“In some aspects, this is comparing apples to oranges,” Christopher Giza, a professor of pediatric neurology and neurosurgery at the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center, said.

While bicycling and football both have the potential for traumatic brain injury (TBI), he said, “the frequency and severity and the relative risks are all slightly different.”

“It’s difficult to compare injury risk of playing football to riding a bike or a skateboard,” agreed Kevin M. Guskiewicz, a leading concussion researcher from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the co-director of the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center.

Christopher Nowinski, the co-founder and executive director of the Sports Legacy Institute, a nonprofit research organization dedicated to the sports concussion crisis, took a stronger stance when asked about the bicycling-to-football comparison, calling the claim “false” in an email.

“It is unfortunate that this important information is being miscommunicated in the media,” Nowinski wrote.

Both Nowinski and Tom Farrey, the executive director of the Aspen Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based educational and policy studies —> Read More