Every year, nearly 2 million school-age children, teenagers and young adults are injured playing sports. However, sports are getting safer. Our team of analysts found that sports-related injuries have declined by 30% since 2017.

Key findings:

  • Football is the most dangerous sport for children under 15
  • Basketball, skateboarding and football are the most dangerous sports overall
  • Sports-related injuries have declined by 31%
  • Skateboarding is the only sport where injuries have increased, going up more than 100%

Sports with the most injuries

More people are injured in team sports like football and basketball than in individual sports like tennis. Basketball has the most injuries overall, but the number of injuries varies with each age group. Football is the most dangerous sport for children ages 5 to 14, while basketball has the highest number of injuries among people ages 15 to 24.

Sports-related injuries have declined over the last several years. Football, baseball, basketball and soccer injuries have each decreased by more than 30% since 2017. Skateboarding is the only sport where we found an increase in the number of injuries. There has been a 104% increase in skateboarding-related injuries since 2017.

Sports with most injuries
Sport 2017 injuries (5- to 24-year-olds) 2021 injuries (5- to 24-year-olds) % change since 2017
Baseball 136,335 83,358 -39%
Basketball 408,823 206,426 -50%
Bicycles 200,115 140,638 -30%
Boxing 9,720 8,845 -9%
Football 307,917 202,973 -34%
Hockey 32,195 24,332 -24%
Lacrosse, rugby 55,253 31,965 -42%
Racquet sports 9,497 6,210 -35%
Skateboarding 74,781 152,593 104%
Soccer 182,762 118, -35%
Swimming, pools, equipment 117,785 87,531 -26%
Track and field activities, equipment 30,267 12,686 -58%
Volleyball 41,596 32,253 -22%
Total 1,607,046 1,108,080 -31%

Sports with the highest rates of injury

The number of people injured while playing football is declining, but football is still the most dangerous sport by far. We found that people were three to four times more likely to be injured playing football than in other sports. Nearly 6% of football players were injured in 2019 compared to less than 2% of basketball or soccer players.

sports injury informational graphic

Sports with the most concussions

Concussions in sports are extremely common. The CDC estimates that around 4 million athletes will get a concussion every year. We found that high-impact sports like football and hockey have substantially higher percentages of concussions than others. Hockey has the highest rate of concussion-related injuries, followed by snowboarding and football.

Concussions in each sport
Sport % of concussion-related injuries
Hockey 12%
Snowboarding 10%
Water tubing 9%
Football 8%
Lacrosse 8%
Horseback riding 7%
Wrestling 7%
Rugby 7%
Soccer 6%
Cheerleading 6%
Baseball 5%
Volleyball 4%
Basketball 3%

Will health insurance cover sports injuries?

Insurance covers most sports-related injuries. If you are participating in a school-sponsored activity, the school will almost always have an insurance policy in place to protect students. However, these policies are mainly for severe or catastrophic injuries.

For less severe injuries, sports participants will need their own health insurance. Almost every college requires proof of health insurance in order to attend, but elementary, middle and high schools do not. This leaves a gap where sports participants might be uninsured or underinsured.

Because children and young adults tend to be healthy and represent a low overall health risk, buying an individual health insurance plan is often relatively inexpensive. If possible, athletes should have health insurance because without it, even a sprained ankle can end up costing thousands of dollars.


QuoteWizard analyzed National Safety Council and Insurance Information Institute data on sports-related injuries from 2010 to 2021. A sports injury is defined as any injury resulting from a sports activity that resulted in an emergency room visit. We looked specifically at injuries involving people between the ages of 5 and 24. While 2020 data was evaluated in this study, we did not factor it into percentage calculations due to coronavirus-pandemic-related changes in sports participation.


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