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Many Canadians increasingly aware of danger in contact sports: survey

Seven per cent say they were affected to the point where they would most probably tune out. Thirty-four per cent say the incident made them upset but it won’t be changing their viewing habits. Fifty per cent say it doesn’t affect them personally.
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Many Canadians are becoming increasingly aware of the danger of contact sports, a new poll shows, but it won’t be stopping them from watching.

When NFL player Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest after taking a hit earlier this month, many watched with worry in real time. This new survey from the Angus Reid Institute asked viewers whether the incident involving Hamlin would change how they feel about watching contact sports.

While the poll shows that the vast majority would still continue to watch, many viewers said they were still affected by the incident.

Seven per cent say they were affected to the point where they would most probably tune out. Thirty-four per cent say the incident made them upset but it won’t be changing their viewing habits. Fifty per cent say it doesn’t affect them personally.

“Nearly 60 per cent said that, ‘You know what this is part of the game, it’s part of the sport, it goes with the territory,'” said Shachi Kurl, president of the non-profit research institute.

The poll’s finding also showed that close to half of those who follow the NFL closely were affected by Hamlin’s injury. The poll says the impact of similar incidents depends on the different levels of fans.

“Those who follow the NFL most closely are much more likely to say that they were personally upset about Hamlin’s injury, but that their viewership would likely not change. Those further removed are more likely to say that they will watch less or that they are far enough removed that it won’t impact them.”

According to the poll, Hamlin’s cardiac arrest is a rare sports occurrence. What’s more common are traumatic brain injuries, and fans do worry about concussions as the survey suggests. Fifty-three per cent say they find themselves thinking more often about brain injuries when they watch the games, even if it doesn’t change their viewership.

“Whether it is Canadian football, the NFL, or the NHL and hockey, when it comes to contact sports there is I think, an increasing level of awareness that we’re seeing through the data,” Kurl said.

With files from Martin MacMahon

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