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Nearly 40 percent of the high school boys who played varsity football last year sustained injuries, but there were fewer serious injuries than there once were, a study by the National Athletic Trainers' Association reports.

Overall, the proportion of injuries has not changed much since the association released similar data for 1986-88. But the new study shows there were 2.4 percent fewer major injuries and 5.7 percent fewer moderate injuries during the 1995 season.

"It's very encouraging to us," said John W. Powell, the director of the study for the Dallas-based group. "But you need to show me next year that this is going to be the trend."

The data also show that a smaller proportion of players are getting re-injured--a sign that athletic trainers, players, and others involved in the sport are recognizing injuries earlier and caring for them, Mr. Powell said.

Football is one of 10 high school sports the NATA is examining for a three-year study. It is also looking at injuries to boys and girls who play basketball, wrestling, baseball, softball, field hockey, volleyball, and soccer. Statistics for winter sports programs are likely to be released in June.

According to the current report, 30 percent of the football injuries were described as general trauma, 27 percent were sprains, and 22 percent strains.

Football players were most inclined to injure their hips, thighs, and legs, followed by their forearms, wrists, and hands. Only 2.9 percent of injuries were to the face and scalp.

The study was based on data collected at 123 high schools where full-time certified athletic trainers are employed.

To help eliminate the confusion surrounding freshman eligibility for college sports, the National Collegiate Athletic Association has set up a toll-free hot line for prospective student athletes.

Changes in NCAA academic standards, which take effect in August, have created confusion for some students about requisite courses, grade-point averages, and college-entrance-exam scores.

Callers will be able to learn about such eligibility requirements as the kinds of math courses they'll need, how to register with the NCAA clearinghouse, and rules for college transfers. Callers can also order free publications on these topics over the hot line.

"I encourage high school students, parents, coaches, and others to use this hot line in order to better understand the often complicated rules associated with eligibility," said Jerry Kingston, the chairman of the academic-requirements committee for the Overland Park, Kan.-based NCAA.

The number is (800) 638-3731.

--Karen Diegmueller
e-mail: kdieg@epe.org

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