The Deadliest High School Sports

Slightly cooler weather means fall, which means the return of football.

Although fans always embrace a new football season, some parents of high school athletes might fear the sport’s return.

The country's most dangerous high school sport in terms of the sheer number of injuries is being blamed for the death of a 14 year old boy in Anaheim, Calif., according to the Associated Press. The cause of the injury is unknown, but late summer football deaths are typically because of heat stroke. Every year, at least 10 children die from heat stroke during a sports game or practice, according to the data from the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research. Dozens more suffer from heat stroke or heat exhaustion on the field.

Across all types of injuries, football consistently leads other sports because it has most participants. But when it comes to fatality rates, football isn’t even among the top three, according to the data.

Researchers collected data from 1982 to 2011 for all high school sports and millions of high school athletes. Total fatality rates were then calculated per 100,000 participants.

The deadliest sport during this time had a fatality rate of 2.89 deaths per 100,000, which was more than double the second deadliest sport. Football was the fourth deadliest sport with a fatality rate of .81 per 100,000 participants.

Cheerleading, which has been shown to be the most dangerous activity based on injury data, was not included in the study because it was not classified as a sport.

Still, cheerleading causes the most injuries out of any of the sports studied, as well as the most hospital visits. It does not have many fatalities, though — only seven in 19 years, according to a separate 2011 report from the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research. Female swimming and female track were also responsible for seven indirect deaths.

Water polo was the only female sport to rank amongst the deadliest sports with a .42 fatality rate per 100,000 participants.

The slideshow above lists the top 10 deadliest high school sports by a combined rate of indirect and direct fatalities. Indirect fatalities are defined as "injuries which were caused by systemic failure as a result of exertion while participating in a sport activity or by a complication which was secondary to a non-fatal injury," like heat stroke — a probable factor in this most recent football death.

Direct injuries were injuries that occurred from "participation in the skills of the sport," such as head trauma.)

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