College Sports-Related Injuries - United States, 2009-10 Through 2013-14 Academic Years

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2015 Dec 11;64(48):1330-6. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6448a2.


Sports-related injuries can have a substantial impact on the long-term health of student-athletes. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) monitors injuries among college student-athletes at member schools. In academic year 2013-14, a total of 1,113 member schools fielded 19,334 teams with 478,869 participating student-athletes in NCAA championship sports (i.e., sports with NCAA championship competition) (1). External researchers and CDC used information reported to the NCAA Injury Surveillance Program (NCAA-ISP) by a sample of championship sports programs to summarize the estimated national cumulative and annual average numbers of injuries during the 5 academic years from 2009-10 through 2013-14. Analyses were restricted to injuries reported among student-athletes in 25 NCAA championship sports. During this period, 1,053,370 injuries were estimated to have occurred during an estimated 176.7 million athlete-exposures to potential injury (i.e., one athlete's participation in one competition or one practice). Injury incidence varied widely by sport. Among all sports, men's football accounted for the largest average annual estimated number of injuries (47,199) and the highest competition injury rate (39.9 per 1,000 athlete-exposures). Men's wrestling experienced the highest overall injury rate (13.1 per 1,000) and practice injury rate (10.2 per 1,000). Among women's sports, gymnastics had the highest overall injury rate (10.4 per 1,000) and practice injury rate (10.0 per 1,000), although soccer had the highest competition injury rate (17.2 per 1,000). More injuries were estimated to have occurred from practice than from competition for all sports, with the exception of men's ice hockey and baseball. However, injuries incurred during competition were somewhat more severe (e.g., requiring ≥7 days to return to full participation) than those acquired during practice. Multiple strategies are employed by NCAA and others to reduce the number of injuries in organized sports. These strategies include committees that recommend rule and policy changes based on surveillance data and education and awareness campaigns that target both athletes and coaches. Continued analysis of surveillance data will help to understand whether these strategies result in changes in the incidence and severity of college sports injuries.

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sports / statistics & numerical data*
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Universities