Football is a violent sport, but it isn't the most dangerous one for college athletes.
WASHINGTON — Although football accounts for more injuries than any other college sport, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it isn’t really the most dangerous.
CDC researchers studied injury data from 2009 to 2014, looking at figures for 25 sports provided by the NCAA.
Football had the highest annual average for injuries during that period — 47,199, or 22 percent of the NCAA total.
“Football is a rough and tumble sport by its very nature,” said Dr. Jason Pothast, a sports medicine specialist with MedStar NRH Rehabilitation Network in Olney, Maryland.
Pothast said football players are prone to fractures and ligament tears.
“Even though most of the attention is — for good reason — focusing on concussions, there are still a lot of devastating injuries that occur,” he said.
The same can be said for collegiate wrestling. Men’s wrestling has the highest percentage of athletes getting hurt of any NCAA sport.
Pothast said that is not surprising.
“You do have a lot of knee injuries, you have a lot of arm injuries and ankle strains simply because they are twisted and put in ways that the body wasn’t necessarily meant to be twisted and put in,” he said.
Wrestling leads the pack in highest rate of injuries. Football ranked third and women’s gymnastics ranked second. Pothast said trainers, coaches and sports medicine specialists are doing what they can to bring down injury rates.
“They do a lot of maneuvers on their hands, and on their wrists and forearms, putting a lot of their body weight on delicate features,” Pothast said. “They are constantly turning and flipping and having hard landings.”
He said these injuries don’t get the publicity of those in football — unless, of course, a gymnast or wrestler is injured at the Olympics.
“The injuries are still occurring in many of these sports,” Pothast said. “We just don’t happen to talk about them.”