Football is Too Risky For Footballers

Level of injury to professional footballers is around 1000 times higher than that found in other traditionally high risk industrial occupations generally regarded as high risk

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According to research by R. D. Hawkins and C. W. Fuller the overall level of injury to professional footballers is around 1000 times higher than that found in other traditionally high risk industrial occupations generally regarded as high risk.

This is one of the reasons footballers get paid so much – at the very high level at least: Their careers are short and risky.  However, should it be so risky?

According to Hawkins and Fuller In all, 67% of all injuries occurred during competition. The overall injury frequency rate (IFR) was 8.5 injuries/1000 hours, with the IFR during competitions (27.7) being significantly higher than that during training (3.5).

There were significantly more injuries in competition in the 15 minute periods at the end of each half. Strains (41%), sprains (20%), and contusions (20%) represented the major types of injury. The thigh (23%), the ankle (17%), knee (14%), and lower leg (13%) represented the major locations of injury, with significantly more injuries to the dominant body side. Reinjury counted for 22% of all injuries. Only 12% of all injuries were caused by a breach of the rules of football, although player to player contact was involved in 41% of all injuries.

An average international footballer plays about 5,000 minutes per season – that’s almost twice as much as a NBA player, who has a minimum of 82 games per season.  An international player will play between 60 to 80 games per season. On average it’s a game every 5 days. This rate is one of the reasons we see plenty of footballers struggle with injuries. In England, right now,  it appears that around 25% of Premier League players are currently injured. That’s according to reliable injury source PhysioRoom.

Injuries are part of the game – no doubt – but should we see so many injuries? Should football be so dangerous for footballers?

A game every 7 days could reduce the amount of injuries and allow football fans to enjoy their heroes in more games.

Footballers will enjoy a longer career and fewer injuries – and maybe longer lives (according to a German study players live 1.9 years fewer than the general male population) .

For the game to have a more healthy rate of games, clubs and associations will need to find a way to reduce games of less importance. Maybe cut the number of teams in the leagues, maybe abolish the “3rd competition” (league cups and such), maybe reduce knock out stage games to a single deciding game – there are plenty of ways to lower the incredibly high risk of injuries.  The question now is: does football care about footballers?

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