Epidemiological Study of Football Injuries Sustained by Participants in Interscholastic Tackle Football in Five Treasure Valley High Schools

Publication Date


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Exercise and Sport Studies



Major Advisor

Ronald P. Pfeiffer


Ross E. Vaughn


Bill Kozar


The Treasure Valley of Idaho represents the fastest growing region within the state. As a result, five of the public high schools within the valley, e.g., Boise, Borah, Capital, Meridian, and Centennial are all classified as A-1, which is the largest category within the state. Each of these schools offer extensive interscholastic sports programs which typically involve in excess of 400 students. One of the largest participation interscholastic activities is tackle football. Tackle football has historically been stereotyped as a high risk sport for injuries, both minor and major. Powell et al.(1988), reported that while tackle football constitutes only 18% of the total number of interscholastic sports participants nationally, it is responsible for producing the majority of the severe injuries. This study of tackle football at five Treasure Valley high schools was facilitated by the fact that each of these schools presently employs a NATA-BOC Certified Athletic Trainer. As such, there was the assurance that the initial evaluations and related information regarding each injury was accurate and current. The sample consisted of all varsity players at Boise, Borah, Capital, Meridian, and Centennial high schools (N=342). The study began in September with the onset of the first fall football game. The study progressed throughout the entire season and included any post-season play for the individual schools that participated.

The purpose of this study was to collect positional (e.g., tackles guards, running backs) information on severity, location and related variables on injuries associated with tackle football games. This information can aide school personnel, parents, insurance companies, researchers, and the medical community in deriving specific incidence rates of injuries in various sports, and the risk of participating in a particular sport (Booher, 1976; Cleavinger, 1967; Dalzell, 1934; McLain & Reynold, 1989; Wright, 1971) . Additionally, parents may use injury information to help select a sport for their child that may not have as high an injury rate when compared to others. Insurance companies may use the information to establish premium rates for different types of injuries. Schools and administrators can use the information to evaluate risk of involvement in a particular sport.

Presently there is no data available regarding football injury rates in Idaho. Odds ratios, relative risks and descriptive statistics were generated. No statistically significant findings were generated. However, the offensive backfield was associated with a greater percentage of injuries than any other category.

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