The benefits of playing sports are numerous. Improved cardiovascular health and team-building skills are just a few of the positives. However, the primary risk in playing sports is the potential for sports injuries. Head injuries and lower-body injuries are the most prevalent among athletes. The type and frequency of sports injuries tends to vary on the sport. For example, head injuries are a major issue in American football due to high-impact collisions, whereas basketball players are more prone to lower-body injuries due to their constant movement. Sports injuries have spurred controversies and lawsuits, no matter the sport, but many athletes continue to play and perform despite the risks.
Football and the Head Injury Epidemic
Football is the most dangerous sport, with 35 average injuries per game, which is nine more injuries per game on average than the second most dangerous sport, wrestling. In 2011, 274,455 football players suffered head injuries. One year later, that prompted 4,500 players to file lawsuits against the NFL for brain trauma or head injuries. As a result, the NFL settled for $765 million, which went into a 50-year fund that covers players’ head-related injury expenses. Shoulder injuries, lower arm injuries and lower trunk injuries are among the other most popular injuries caused by football. Yet, with ex-NFL players over the age of 50 being diagnosed with dementia at 5 times the national average, head injuries are clearly the most concerning for the NFL.
Soccer’s More Unconventional Risks
Soccer players may have to worry less about head trauma, but there are some surprising aspects of a soccer match with potential harm, including the goal post. Between 1979 and 2008, there were 38 deaths and 38 serious injuries from goal posts falling over. The epidemic included non-professionals as well. In that same time span, 1,800 school-age soccer players went to the E.R. for post-related injuries. Predictably, post-related injuries have inspired lawsuits, like the one a 20-year-old man filed against the Soccer Association of Columbia after a goal post crushed one of his eyes after falling. He received no compensation because, according to Maryland law, one cannot receive a monetary settlement in an accident if they have 1% or more personal involvement in that accident.
Baseball Injuries Continue to Rise
Baseball has long-held a safe reputation, where the main concern was being hit with a ball by the pitcher. However, after Major League Baseball injuries increased by 37% in just three years from 2005-2008, it’s evident that baseball-related injuries are becoming more apparent. Pitchers are most at risk due to their demanding deliveries and workloads, which are reasons why they comprise 62% of MLB players using disability days.
Basketball’s Threat to the Lower Body
Basketball players are most prone to ankle sprains and knee injuries, both injuries whose risk of re-aggravation is high. This is why some NBA players struggle with the same leg injury throughout an entire season. Stretching is a very important part of basketball as a result. The risk of an ankle injury is increased by 2.6 times if a player does not stretch properly before a game. It’s something that all basketball players, no matter their level of experience, should keep in mind.
The Sheer Physicality of Boxing
In a sport where the objective is to knock your opponent out, it goes without saying that boxing is the cause of many injuries. After all, the force of a pro boxer’s fist is like being hit with a 13-pound bowling bowl. This explains why the hand is the most injured body part of boxers, comprising 33% of all boxing injuries. Since 1990, there has been an average of 10 boxing deaths per year, the majority caused by head and neck injuries. Even more alarming, 90% of all boxers sustain brain injuries, making it compete with football for the most dangerous popular professional sport.
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