45+ Sports Injury Statistics That Might Hurt

by Denis Metev
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Injury in sports is quite common, and athletes have to prepare themselves for the risk of getting hurt. Sports injuries can occur in all kinds of disciplines, whether it’s in high-contact sports like football or even non-contact sports like volleyball.

Let’s take a look at some athletic injury statistics to get a better sense of the price athletes pay for the sports excellence they achieve. 

Ultimate Sports Injury Statistics:

  • Sport with the highest number of injuries – Basketball, with 533,509 injuries 
  • Sport with the most injuries per event– Bull riding, with 1440 injuries per 1000 exposure hours.
  • Sports with most deaths – BASE Jumping takes the top spot with 383 deaths
  • Highest concussion rate in a team sport – Men’s rugby, three per every 1000 participations
  • Most common sports injury – sprains and strains to the ankle

1. The most common football injuries are orthopedic

(Source: NFL Physicians Society)

  • An estimated 1.2 million football-related injuries are sustained annually.
  • According to a study, sprains and strains account for 40% of all football injuries. 
  • Most football injuries occur primarily in the knee, foot, ankle, shoulder, neck, or the back.
  • Concussions only account for 5% of all football injuries.
  • Catastrophic injuries like cervical spine injuries have declined dramatically. 

American football is a highly competitive contact sport, and injuries are inevitable on the gridiron. Putting your body on the line in the name of athletic dominance has its consequences.

The extreme end of that spectrum is dislocations, tears, breaks, and even life-threatening brain injuries. Some lighter injuries, on the other hand, include sprains and strains to the lower extremities, which are the most common injuries in football. 

Strains often occur from overuse or even improper training. Sprains, however, can range from damage to the ligaments to a torn muscle that often needs surgery and months of rehabilitation. 

2. Ankle sprains are the most common sporting injuries overall

(Source: WebMD)

  • According to the Board of Certification for Athletic Trainers, an estimated 2 million acute ankle injuries occur annually in the US alone. 
  • Acute ankle sprains occur at high rates across all levels of sports participation.
  • Ankle sprains are a common feature in youth sports injury statistics.
  • The highest rates of ankle injuries occur in football, basketball, soccer, and volleyball.

Ankle sprains show up as the most common sports injury in statistics, because they can occur in almost any kind of sporting activity. They are, however, most common in sports that have lots of running and jumping. Most ankle sprains happen in either basketball, football, soccer, or volleyball.

An ankle sprain is an overextension or even tearing of the muscle tissue that connects the bones of the ankle that help keep them stable. Sprained ankles have been estimated to constitute up to 30% of all injuries seen in sports medicine clinics. More than 23,000 people per day in the United States, both athletes, and nonathletes require medical care for ankle sprains.

3. BASE Jumping is one of the deadliest sport in the world

(Source: Base Fatality List)

  • As of 14 February 2020, the BASE Fatality List records 383 deaths in BASE jumping since April 1981.
  • BASE Jumping has a fatality and injury rate 43 times higher than that of parachuting from a plane.
  • BASE jumping has a risk of death of 1 out of every 2,300 jumps.
  • 25 people died in BASE Jumping accidents in 2016 alone. 

BASE Jumping is an extreme sport, where participants jump from a fixed object. Then, with the aid of a parachute, they descend safely to the ground. BASE is an acronym for the different fixed objects or locations that jumpers usually descend from; Building, Antenna, Span and Earth (cliffs). 

Because BASE jumps are generally from a much lower altitude than other forms of parachuting (like skydiving), it is significantly more hazardous – with a risk of death of 1 in every 2,300. This makes it one of the most dangerous sports in the world.

BASE jumping ranks so high in deaths in sports statistics that there is a database of people that have died BASE jumping that is updated annually. So far, 383 have died BASE jumping. That’s more than the ones who have died climbing Mt. Everest – there have been 307deaths  since 1922. 

4. Nearly 250,000 athletes are treated in emergency rooms for soccer-related injuries annually

(Source: Rothman Orthopaedic Institute)

  • Sprains and strains are the most common soccer injuries, light sprains in mild cases and torn ACLs in extreme cases. 
  • Ill-timed tackles and collisions can result in painful fractures. 
  • Head injuries, which carry a great risk of causing concussions, are also common in soccer.
  • 5% of soccer players sustain brain injuries as a result of their sport.
  • Dermal injuries, from cuts and bruises to deep lacerations, are a common occurrence in the sport.

Soccer, or football if you live outside America, is one of the most popular sports in the world – and with good reason too. It’s high-paced, high-adrenaline action with athletes in peak physical condition vying for the win. Because of its competitive nature, soccer players aren’t immune to injuries. 

Sprains and strains are quite common in the beautiful game, but injuries can be serious and sometimes fatal. 

The most prominent case is former Manchester City player Alf-Inge Håland, Håland was the victim of a horrific tackle from rival Manchester United player Roy Keane, sustaining one of the worst sports injuries in history. His knee was hurt so badly he needed surgery and was ultimately forced to retire from the game completely. 

5. 10% of all contact sport athletes sustain concussions yearly

(Source: Protect The Brain)

  • Brain injuries cause more deaths than any other sports injury.
  • In any given season, 10% of all college players and 20% of all high school players sustain brain injuries.
  • Football injuries associated with the brain occur at the rate of one in every 5.5 games.
  • 87% of professional boxers have sustained a brain injury.
  • Head injury in sports statistics found that the head is involved in more baseball injuries than any other body part. 

A concussion may be considered a mild brain injury, but it is not to be taken lightly. Concussions are caused by a blow to the head or a violent shaking of the head and body. In contact sports, this happens more often than you might think. 

In fact, according to UMPC, between 1.7 and three million sports and recreation-related concussions happen each year. Five out of 10 concussions go unreported and/or undetected. 

Two in 10 high-school athletes who play contact sports — including soccer and lacrosse — will suffer a concussion this year. Girls soccer sees the second-highest number of concussions and girls basketball seeing the third most, out of all high school sports.

Football concussion stats have been in the headlines in the last couple of years. It’s no wonder that a large study came out that tested the brains of 111 deceased former NFL players. It found that 110 of them had evidence of CTE. 

6. Baseball has the highest fatality rate for children age five to 14

(Source: Standford Children’s Health)

  • Three to four children die from baseball-related injuries each year.
  • Nearly 110,000 children were treated in hospital emergency rooms for baseball-related injuries.
  • 21% of all traumatic brain injuries among American children come from playing baseball.
  • Most organized sports-related injuries (62%) occur during practice.

A lot of children take part in sports and according to youth sports injury statistics from Standford Children’s Health, about 30 million children and teens participate in some form of organized sports, and more than 3.5 million are injured each year.

child baseball injury percentage

Injuries are inevitable in sports, whether from the trauma of contact with other players or from overuse or misuse of a body part. Youth sports injuries are on the rise, so it’s important to ensure that kids stay safe while playing sports. 

Basketball, baseball/softball, bicycling, football, and ice hockey rank in the top five of the most dangerous sports for kids aged 5 to 14. They rank as the top five sports that children are treated for in hospital emergency rooms.  

7. As many as 1 in 4 rugby players will be injured during any given season

(Source: PhysioWorks)

  • Over 40% of all rugby athlete injuries are muscular strains or contusions.
  • Sprained ankles account for almost 1 in 7 rugby injuries.
  • Rugby injury rates are reported to be nearly three times higher than soccer.
  • Most injuries are experienced by 10-18-year-olds.
  • Approximately half of all injuries occur while a player is tackling or being tackled.

Rugby is a high-contact, fast-moving sport that heavily involves tackles and getting tackled. Each player performs, on average, 20-40 tackles per match – those rugby injury statistics are higher when compared to most other sports.

Forwards are more frequently injured than backs, because of their greater involvement in physical collisions and tackles. Between 5-25% of those injuries are to the head, while 44% of those head injuries are concussions.

57% of rugby injuries occur during matches, and more often in the second half of the game. That’s why pre-season preparation is a key strategy in curbing the number of injuries.

8. College sports injuries are an ever-present danger

(Source: At Your Own Risk)

  • College sports injury statistics reveal that 90% of student-athletes have reported some sort of sports-related injury. 
  • 54% of student-athletes report that they have played while injured. 
  • 12% of high school athletes have reported that they have sustained concussions and head injuries from their time on the field.
  • More than 300 young athletes have died from sports related injuries between 2008 and 2015.

Playing sports in college can be a fulfilling and enriching time in a young athlete’s life. What’s more, being part of a team can help improve interpersonal relationships. All this goes a long way in terms of long-term development. 

The downside is that most young athletes put the benefit of the team ahead of their own safety and well-being. 

That is likely why a recent survey by At Your Own Risk found out that over half of student-athletes have admitted to playing while injured “cause they couldn’t let the team down”. This puts student-athletes at a higher risk of repeat injuries or long-term damage, which has raised the importance of athletic trainers at all levels of sports. 

With the growing concern about the risks of sports-related concussions, their importance has never been more emphasized. The effort to curb sports injury statistics is there, and we’ll hopefully start seeing fewer and fewer injuries as time goes on

FAQs:

Q: What sport has the most deaths?
A: With a 1 in 2317 chance of dying, BASE Jumping is at the top of the most dangerous sports in America. 383 deaths have been recorded from BASE Jumping since April 1981.

Q: Which sport has the most injuries?
A: Football is the cause of 18.8 injuries per every 100 participants.

Q: Which sport has the highest injury rate?
A: A study surveying 16 years of NCAA injury data found that Football had the highest injury rates for both practices (9.6 injuries per 1000 participations) and games (35.9 injuries per 1000 participations)

Q: What percentage of injuries are sports-related?
A: The US Department of Health and Human Services reported that 8.6 million people are hurt annually while engaging in physical activities. A third of that number are sports-related injuries.

Q: How many sports injuries are there a year?
A: According to a recent study from the US Department of Health and Human Services, an estimated 2.9 million injuries annually occur at a sports facility, athletic field, or a playground.

Q: Are sports injuries increasing?
A: Yes, they are. Youth sports injury statistics show that 3.5 million children aged 14 and below are hurt annually while playing sports. Because more kids are playing sports now than ever before, more kids are getting hurt as well.

Sources:

1. NFL Physicians Society
2. WebMD
3. BASE Fatality List
4. Rothman Orthopaedic Institute
5. Protect The Brain
6. Standford Children’s Health
7. PhysioWorks
8. At Your Own Risk

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