More than 90 percent of youth tackle-football players avoided sustaining an injury that restricted their participation during the 2012 and 2013 seasons, according to preliminary results released today by USA Football.
The organization, which serves as the official youth-football development partner of the National Football League, commissioned the Datalys Center in February 2012 to conduct a sweeping two-year study of injures in youth tackle-football programs. USA Football picked 10 youth-football leagues in Arizona, Indiana, Massachusetts, Ohio, South Carolina, and West Virginia for the nationally representative study.
The Datalys Center placed athletic trainers at the leagues’ practice and game fields to monitor and document player health. The results released today are considered first-year findings, with final results expected early next year.
Of the 1,913 youth-football players examined (ages 6-14), 9.7 percent sustained an injury that caused them to miss a game or a practice, according to the study. Of the players who did sustain injuries, 64 percent were minor enough that they returned to play on the same day.
The most serious injury reported was a fracture that required emergency surgery, Tom Dompier, president of the Datalys Center, told Inside Indiana Business’ Gerry Dick. He also mentioned that youth-football players, based on the first-year results, seemed to be about four times more likely to be injured during a game than in practice.
Contusions (bruises) were by far the most common injuries reported, representing 35 percent of the total number in the study. Ligament sprains (15 percent) were the second-most common injury reported. Only 3.6 percent of the youth-football players in the study suffered a concussion.
“The health and safety of every youth-football player is our No. 1 priority,” said USA Football executive director Scott Hallenbeck in a statement. “For the millions of children across the country who gain the physical, social, and psychological rewards that youth-football provides, this ground-breaking research will enable us to make the sport better and safer with scientifically gathered information.”
About 2.8 million youth-athletes ages 6-14 play organized youth tackle football, according to the organization.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.