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What Are the Deadliest High School Sports in Texas?

Sporting activities are a part of the fabric of American life and have been for much of our history. Even as children, millions of us regularly play baseball, softball, basketball, and similar sports – both on the playground and in more organized settings. In recent years, however, more attention has been given to some of the less exciting consequences of organized sports – consequences that include things like serious injury and even death. And as more attention has been drawn to sports deaths, the parents of high school children in Texas may find themselves asking one simple question: which of the many high school sports in Texas represent the most risk for student-athletes’ wellbeing?

The Important Role of Sports

By the time students reach high school, many view sports as being every bit as important as academic achievements. For that reason and many others, high school sports are now a cultural phenomenon that has captured the imagination of Americans both young and old. Nowhere is that truer than in the great state of Texas.

Texas is well known for its high school sports, and especially for its legendary high school football programs. In the 2014-15 school year, 488,224 boys and 316,374 girls participated in various sporting activities – a total of more than 800,000 student-athletes. Football was the most popular choice, with 163,998 of those athletes representing 1,064 different schools. That shouldn’t surprise anyone, given that the sport is also the most popular high school sport nationwide.

However, football is just one of many sports enjoyed by high school students across the state. With few exceptions, kids in Texas participate in just about every sporting endeavor you can imagine. Still, the lessons learned from being part of a team and the thrill of competition can come with a cost that is often too high to bear.

The Top Injuries

First of all, it can be helpful to understand the types of injuries that can occur in sports, and which ones are suffered most often at the high school levels. As Click2Houston reported late last year, the most common injury in high school sports is the sprain, followed by bruises. In 2014, 558 Texas high school students reported bruising. That same year, 533 athletes suffered concussions – and those are just the incidents that were identified and reported. Fractures and dislocations were the fourth and fifth most commonly reported injuries.

The Most Dangerous Sports

When most people think of dangerous sports at the high school level, their first thought usually focuses on football. After all, the media has given the sport a great deal of scrutiny in recent years, as severe brain injuries have been discovered at the professional level and the NFL players’ union has attempted to raise awareness about the risks associated with concussions and other head trauma. Even legendary players like Mike Ditka have opined about the dangers of the game. When high school players around the country die as a result of injuries suffered on the field, the sport’s image cannot help but suffer.

Football is not the only deadly sport out there, however.  Take cheerleading, for example. Across the nation, this popular sport is responsible for almost two-thirds of the catastrophic injuries experienced by female high school athletes. When you consider that only one of every ten female athletes in high school is involved in cheerleading, that statistic is truly frightening.

Girls’ basketball is a dangerous sport as well, and consistently ranks among the top five in any list of the deadliest high school sports. That danger makes sense in a way since the sport is the most popular high school sporting endeavor where female athletes are concerned. By the last count, nearly half a million high school girls play it each year. Even so, the high rate of head injuries – and particularly Traumatic Brain Injuries – has to be a concern. Evidence shows that the rate of TBIs has dramatically increased. Roughly 12,000 girls suffer those traumatic injuries every year.

Putting Things in Context

Naturally, football will be perceived as the most dangerous sport at the high school level. Given its disproportionately large participation rates, the number of injuries and deaths that occur in the sport should be expected to dwarf other activities. Still, those numbers are not the only way to measure danger. The fatality and injury rates can be more telling. And by that measure, sports like softball, water polo, and boys’ gymnastics are all deadlier at the national level than America’s favorite game.

In recent years, even sports like cross country and the pole vault have been drawing more attention as a result of their potential dangers. Ten years ago, the results of a 22-year study indicated that the injury rate for the pole vault was the highest of any sport played at the high school level. That startling fact will probably come as a surprise to anyone who has grown to accept that football players are at greater risk of injury than athletes in other sports.

The Ramification of an Injury for Your Student-Athlete

If you’re a parent of a high school athlete who has suffered a serious injury while participating in a school sport, chances are that you may be confused about your available options. Since parents typically sign release forms to allow children to participate in athletics, you may have assumed that you have no legal recourse for compensation. It is true that suing any school is difficult, and that some assumption of risk occurs when you allow your child to participate.

Despite the high legal bar that must be overcome, successful lawsuits are possible when coaches are demonstrably incompetent, or faulty equipment and facilities led to the injuries. The bottom line is that you will almost certainly need professional legal assistance to help you determine the potential merits of any legal action before you move forward with any effort seeking compensation. Your best option is to get a consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney so that he can evaluate your situation and help you decide how to proceed.