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Catastrophic On-Field Injuries

Apr 28th, 2021

Most of the time, we think about sports in positive terms. Maybe you have fond memories of bonding with your high school basketball team. Maybe you still love tailgating on crisp fall Saturdays.

Unfortunately, sports can also lead to injuries and, though it is rare, even catastrophic injuries. Below, we examine this darker side of sports, the side we sometimes forget about.

By the Numbers

The University of North Carolina’s National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research studies injuries at the youth, high school, and collegiate levels and keeps statistics on how many occur each year. They define a number of sports injuries as catastrophic:

  • Fatalities
  • Permanent disability injuries
  • Serious injuries even if the athlete makes a complete recovery
  • Temporary or transient paralysis
  • Heatstroke related to exercise
  • Sudden cardiac arrest or cardiac disruption

According to the NCCSIR, a significant number of athletes at the high school and college levels have experienced such catastrophic injuries each year.  It is perhaps unsurprising that 60% of all examples occur among football players, a sport marked by its intense contact. However, 15% occur on the basketball court, and even sports like cross country running, cheerleading, and water polo are not immune.

Injuries to men made up 91% of the totals. In addition, 78% of all catastrophic injuries happened in high school.

Perhaps the most sobering statistic of all is that 30% of fatalities occur in high school and college sports every year.

Beyond the Numbers

Statistics, of course, can obscure the impact of such catastrophic injuries, but the toll on people’s lives is just as real. We know the headlines, for instance, about students dying from overexertion at practices in the August heat. We hear about cardiac arrest on the basketball floor and spinal injuries that result from hard tackles. Tragedy can strike any sport at any time, as a fatal 2021 rowing accident makes clear. Then families are left behind to try and pick up the pieces.

If you or one of your children has been catastrophically injured participating in a youth, high school, or college sport, call the law firm of Ogborn Mihm, LLP at 303-592-5900, or submit a contact form here.  We can explain your legal rights and help you move forward in the wake of disaster.