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Anterior cruciate ligament injuries in Australian football: should women and girls be playing? You’re asking the wrong question
  1. Aaron Fox1,
  2. Jason Bonacci1,
  3. Samantha Hoffmann1,
  4. Sophia Nimphius2,3,
  5. Natalie Saunders1
  1. 1Centre for Sport Research, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research, School of Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Western Australia, Australia
  3. 3Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Dr Aaron Fox; aaron.f{at}


Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries have been a rising concern in the early years of the women’s Australian Football League (AFLW), eliciting headlines of a ‘knee crisis’ surrounding the league. There has been a focus on female biology as the primary factor driving the high rate of ACL injuries in the AFLW. Emphasising Australian football (AF) as being dangerous predominantly due to female biology may be misrepresenting a root cause of the ACL injury problem, perpetuating gender stereotypes that can restrict physical development and participation of women and girls in the sport. We propose that an approach addressing environmental and sociocultural factors, along with biological determinants, is required to truly challenge the ACL injury problem in the AFLW. Sports science and medicine must therefore strive to understand the whole system of women in AF, and question how to address inequities for the benefit of the athletes.

  • anterior cruciate ligament
  • female
  • injury
  • Australian football

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  • Contributors All authors contributed to this viewpoint article. AF and NS wrote the initial draft. JB, SH and SN provided feedback on the initial draft. All authors have read and commented on the draft version and approved the final version of the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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