Epidemiology of Varsity Sports

Varsity sports is in many schools as important as academics, especially
in the United States. These schools rely a great deal on the success of their
teams for financial stability and enrollment interest. The athletes as well
take their sport very seriously, if only for the sake of their pride.
It therefore follows that each team strives to be the very best, and
only 100% effort is enough. Unfortunately, when competition climaxes, more often
than not injuries result.
This study is a synopsis of the data collected in a number of past
articles concerned with injuries incurred by collegiate athletes in many
different varsity sports. For the purpose of this study, an injury has been
defined as any abnormal condition that has caused an athlete to be removed from
practice or competition for one or more days, because performance has been
impaired (Hanes and Murray, 1982). The following statistics will deal with
injuries of collegiate sports incurred by athletes involved in Men\'s and Women\'s
Basketball, Baseball, Gymnastics and Track and Field, Men\'s Soccer, and
Wrestling, and Women\'s Field Hockey.


The study of the nature and extent of athletic injuries Occuring in
Women\'s Basketball by Hanes and Murray in 1982 found an injury rate of 41.7 per
100 players. Of these injuries 56.9% were ankle sprains, 24.1% were muscle
strains. 76.2% of the sprains and strains occurred to the lower extremities.
Injured fingers ( which were the only upper extremity injuries) accounted for
14.3% of the injuries and 4.8% of the injuries were reported as facial.
All information for this study was collected through the use of injury
forms completed by the coaches, and information forms by each player, injured or
In a separate study for the American Journal of Sports Medicine by
Clarke and Buckley in 1980 on injuries incurred in collegiate Women\'s Basketball,
there was an injury rate of 20.3 per 100 players. There was a reported
incidence of 53% sprains, and 4% strains. 40% of all injuries sustained were to
the lower extremities.
In the same study Clarke and Buckley found similar results in Men\'s
Varsity Basketball to that of the Women\'s. The men reported 20.7 per 100
players suffering injuries, 54% of those being sprains, 6% being strains with
37% of the injuries Occuring to the lower extremity.
All the data collected by Clarke and Buckley was received from the
National Athletic Injury/ Illness Recording System (NAIRS).


Clark and Buckley have also examined Men\'s and Women\'s Baseball in their
study The reported injury rate for this particular sport was 9.2% (men\'s) and
8.7% (women\'s). Sprains occurred 37% and 40% respectively, strains accounted
for 28% and 12%. Men\'s baseball saw 69% of the injuries in the lower extremity,
women\'s baseball reported 82% of the injuries in the lower extremities.


Women\'s Field hockey had a similarly low injury rate according to Clarke
and Buckley, at only 5.5%. Sprains once again were the most common injury,
comprising 37% of the incidence rate, and strains made up 21%. As might be
expected by the nature of the sport, the lower extremities received 72% of the


The incidence rate of the Men\'s and Women\'s Track and Field teams were
10% and 12% respectively. Although as Clarke and Buckley found, this sport
alone saw different injuries come to the forefront. It was muscle strains that
seemed most prevalent, Occuring 48% (men\'s) and 26% (women\'s) of the time.
Sprains accounted for only 18% and 16% of the injuries. But as would seem
fitting the men were inflicted with 72% of the injuries to the lower extremities,
and the women 92%.

After a five-year study of two University wrestling teams, Snook (1982)
found wrestling to have the highest incidence of injury of all those examined
in this article, with an injury rate of 35.7 per 100 participants. The type of
injury was fairly evenly divided between sprains (31.03%) and strains (27.58%)
as it was between injuries to the upper (43%) and lower extremities (55%).


As should be expected, Men\'s soccer saw a very high incidence of injury
to the lower extremities. According to Davis (1977) 85.02% of all injuries
occurred to the legs and ankles, with sprains comprising 31.03% and strains
comprising 27.58%. There was an overall injury rate of 33.21 per 100 players
for his study. Clarke and Buckley similarly found that 76% of the injuries (an
overall rate of 13.2%) occurred to the lower limbs, with 49% of those being
sprains, and 12% strains.


According to Clarke and Buckley, Women\'s Gymnastics followed only
Wrestling in amount of injuries. With an incidence rate