Most college football players don’t take concussion risks seriously enough, survey finds

AURORA, Colo. — It’s become more and more widely accepted in recent years that contact sports like football put players at a troublingly high risk of head injury and concussion. But, has anyone bothered to tell the players that? According to a new survey focusing on college athletes, the majority of college football players are underestimating their risk of concussion and injury while on the gridiron.

In 2017, researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine surveyed 296 college football players attending four schools that play in the “Power Five” conferences of the NCAA. This includes football powerhouses such as the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, and PAC-12 conferences.

College football players take concussion risks too lightly?

Surprisingly, between 43 and 91 percent of athletes in the poll underestimated their risk of a general injury. Between 42 and 63 percent underestimated their risk of concussion while playing sports.

Researchers first modeled each athlete’s estimated risk of injury and concussion and then compared those estimates to each respondent’s answers and perceptions.

Assistant professor of medicine Christine Baugh and her team admit that it’s human nature to underestimate risk of injury in many instances. That being said, they believe these findings are concerning due to the higher risk of head injury among football players.

In conclusion, study authors believe this work raises a number of questions about how much health and safety information these players receive in the first place. Similarly, at what point is the risk so high it supersedes a football game?

“That athletes underestimated their risk of concussion and injury in this study raises important ethical considerations,” Baugh writes in a university release. “What is the threshold for college athletes to be sufficiently informed of the risks and benefits of football to make decisions that align with their values and preferences?”

The study is published in JAMA Network Open. 

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