How Americans perceive the risk of injury and concussion in football, boxing, and nine other sports

Linley SandersData Journalist
January 13, 2023, 5:15 PM GMT+0

High-profile sports injuries often spark concern from parents that contact sports are too risky for their children to play.

A pair of recent YouGov polls surveyed Americans' opinions about the risks of injury or concussion from 11 sports. Our poll shows that a majority of Americans believe that sports-related injuries and concussions are common in boxing and football. Four in five Americans (80%) say concussions are very or somewhat common in boxing, and the same share say so about football. Even more say that sports-related injuries, in general, are common in the two contact sports (84% in boxing; 88% in football). Ice hockey, rugby, and soccer are also perceived as high-risk sports for injury and concussion.

Other sports are associated more with general injury risk than with concussion risk. For instance, 75% of Americans say injuries are common in gymnastics, but only 46% say the same about concussions in the sport. Similarly, 71% believe basketball injuries are common, but only 43% say concussions in basketball are common.

For some people, the perceived risk of injury in sports is so significant that they would prevent their children from participating in the activity — hypothetically speaking. For instance, 45% of Americans who believe concussions are very or somewhat common in boxing say they would prevent a hypothetical child of theirs from participating in the sport because of injury concerns and 41% say the same about concussion concerns. More than one-third (35%) express the same concern about injuries in football, and 34% do about concussions.

Related: Americans recall their experiences playing youth sports

— Carl Bialik and Taylor Orth contributed to this article

See the results for these YouGov polls, conducted January 3 - 5, 2023 and October 20 - 24, 2022

Methodology: These polls were conducted on January 3 - 5, 2023 and October 20 - 24, 2022 — each among 1,000 U.S. adult citizens. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to March 15, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 28% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample for the January poll is approximately 3%, and approximately 4% for the October poll.

Image: Adobe Stock (Sergey Nivens)

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