About 1.5 million people play football, from Pee Wee and Pop
Warner right up to the professional ranks. An estimated 1.2
million of these players are injured each year. The majority
of studies on football injuries concentrate on high school
students or older
athletes. How dangerous is youth football compared to collegiate
and professional ball?
All players in a youth football league of grades 4-8 were
followed for an entire fall season to gather injury data.
Researchers tracked more than 40 teams and almost 1,000 players
age 14 or younger, and recorded all injuries during games
that removed a player from the game or required a physician.
Injuries were rated severe (removed from play over 14 days),
moderate (return to play in 4-14 days), or mild (return within
Overall, only 6% of players suffered some injury over the
season; over 90% of these were considered mild. The most common
injuries were bruises, which accounted for 60% of all injuries,
followed by muscle strains and ligament sprains. Seven percent
of the injuries removed players for the remainder of the season
due to their severity, representing less than 1% of all the
It appears that youth football may be no more dangerous than
other children's sports, but there are still signs you're
your child may be at a higher risk. Players were more likely
to be injured if they were older and heavier: Eighth graders
were four times as likely as fourth graders to be injured.
Offensive players, especially running backs, were also prone
Stuart MJ, Morrey MA, Smith AM, et al. Injuries in youth
football: A prospective observational cohort analysis among
players aged 9 to 13 years. Mayo Clinic Proceedings
2002:77, pp. 317-322.
To find out more on pediatric health, go to http://www.chiroweb.com/find/archives/pediatrics.