Via reader Norm, I got this short clip to an advertisement for a new game called Knockerball.
As Norm said, it seems like fun. But one thing that struck me is that it seems like it will have the same concussion problems as any other contact sport, and perhaps more because the cocoon will prevent the bruises that arises from physical contact and thus may encourage people to collide with each other more. Indeed colliding seems to be the point of the pastime, as in amusement park bumper cars.
The now well-known problems of concussion in football is not just direct impacts to the head. Such things can cause skull fractures. The use of padded helmets has reduced that risk but concussion risks remain because they caused by sudden changes in the momentum of the head that causes the brain to get whiplashed within the skull and this can happen even with padded helmets.
The helmet industry itself is now in an arms race to create the most technologically robust helmet. But, as Kyle Lamson of helmet company Xenith told me this past winter: “A concussion can actually happen without actually hitting your head, and if you can get a concussion without hitting your head, then a helmet can’t possibly prevent every concussion that can actually happen.” Concussion is caused by rapid acceleration and deceleration of the brain, so a whiplash effect can cause a concussion even if the head itself isn’t struck. And while helmet companies do not explicitly market their products as anti-concussion (the FTC investigated Riddell for making such claims without compelling proof in 2014), it isn’t difficult to see that marketing of helmets that “reduce impact” and are “backed by extensive research” is sending a specific message to consumers: this helmet will protect you from concussions.
As far as I can tell from the video, on impact the people are getting jerked around quite violently, and the game actually encourages such collisions by making it appear that you are highly protected,.
So yes, this new pastime could be fun but I would be wary of doing it.