A third of people who have suffered a sporting injury say they are still affected by the consequences today, amid warnings that injuries must be taken more seriously by participants and governing bodies alike. Research conducted by the charity Podium Analytics found that 40% of the people questioned said they had sustained a sporting injury at some point in their life, with 34% of those still experiencing some kind of effect from the damage.
A majority of people were also unaware of how to minimise the risk of injury, while parents did not know who was responsible for monitoring injuries during school sports. In perhaps the most troubling statistic found in the survey, 9% of those between the ages of 18 and 24 who had sustained a sporting injury said they had suffered a permanent disability as a result.
An organisation “dedicated to significantly reducing the incidence and impact of youth sports injury”, Podium works with a number of national governing bodies (NGBs), including the Rugby Football Union and England Hockey. Its chief executive, Andy Hunt, said of the research: “It is clear … that sports injury is common, that it can have a lifelong impact, and that parents are concerned about their children becoming injured.
“Perceptions matter and we feel that having an understanding of public sentiment towards the topic of sports safety and injury will better help us to improve knowledge and awareness, as well as raise support for any changes that can be made to help create a safer world of sport.”
As a consequence of the research, Podium proposes a number of changes in order to better quantify the risks faced by participants and to protect against them.
The first is that more research should be conducted into injuries sustained by young people playing sport. Schools are not obliged to record injuries and Podium argues that the Department for Education should set clear guidelines. Similarly, it calls on NGBs to set out guidelines for recording injuries at adult grassroots level.
Furthermore it suggests the DfE and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport should work together to create “a youth sports mental health policy framework” after only 19% of respondents said they knew how to access resources and education around mental health issues in sport.
“These results show there are clear issues for Podium, sports’ governing bodies, government and other stakeholders, to address to help reduce injury in sport,” Hunt said.