Is community sport still safe?
A comprehensive analysis has shown that hospitalisation rates for community sports such as hockey, basketball, cricket, netball, soccer and football have remained more-or-less constant over the past decade.
In the latest issue of Hazard, the Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit (VISU), analysed the hospitalisation rate for participants in 16 major community sports over an eight year period to 2009/10. The report found that although more people were being admitted to hospital, this was largely attributable to increased participation, and the hospitalisation rate had not altered greatly.
Director of VISU and Deputy Director of the Monash Injury Research Institute (MIRI), Associate Professor Lesley Day said a comprehensive view of community sports injury was vital.
"Studies which focus solely on the increasing number of people admitted to hospital or those participating in potentially dangerous sport and recreational activities in which fewer people participate than the more commonly played community sports, do not tell the whole story,"Associate Professor Day said.
"Death and major trauma, although attention grabbing, are only part of the picture when determining whether or not community sport is in fact safe."
In Hazard Edition 74, published by VISU, data was analysed for 16 popular community sports. Results showed that participation rates in these sports had increased.
"This goes a long way to explaining why the absolute number of people admitted to hospital increased. More participants will lead to more hospitalisations even through the risk of injury remains the same,” Professor Day said.
Director of the Australian Centre for Research into Injury in Sport and its Prevention (ACRISP), Professor Caroline Finch, said there was a substantial difference between recreational activities and organised sports.
"Our research involves working with sports bodies to develop strategies that make all levels of sport safer for participants. This is why, in recent studies, most organised sports do not feature as having a high risk of severe injury,” Professor Finch said.
Both Professor Finch and Associate Professor Day agreed that most of the commonly played community sports are not becoming more dangerous.
“Our research aims to help make community sports safer so that more people can participate. In particular, sporting organisations who want to learn more about what can be done to prevent sports injury can refer to our publication Hazard Edition 74 or the ACRISP website,” Associate Professor Day said.
Hazard can be downloaded from the VISU website.