The benefits of children playing sports are numerous. Activity helps fight childhood obesity, it is associated with improved academic achievement, and it promotes social development. But while each of these aspects is positive, sports can also have a negative physical impact on children.

It is no secret that contact sports are dangerous. For example, the effect of head injuries on football players is increasingly more prevalent in the media. But noncontact and individual sports can also cause injuries. These are the 10 most dangerous youth sports:

  1. Football. It is no surprise that football is the most dangerous sport. It is the most popular in America and far outranks bicycles in ER-related injuries. In 2012, hospitals saw more than 240,000 kids because of football injuries.
  2. Bicycles. While not all injuries are related to the sport of cycling, more than 192,000 youths paid a visit to the emergency room in 2012 for bicycle-related accidents. This number is actually down; the use of helmets and wrist and knee protection has decreased damage from the sport.
  3. Basketball. This sport is growing in popularity among boys and girls, and it is a lot more dangerous than baseball or softball. Organized high school, college, and professional play have contributed to the growing number of youngsters playing the sport. More than 189,000 kids visited the hospital for basketball-related injuries in 2012.
  4. Baseball/softball. We often hear of arm and shoulder stress or injuries from overuse in major league ball players, but they are common in young players, too. Twenty percent of children ages eight through 12 will experience arm pain during a season. These injuries caused 112,000 ER visits in 2012.
  5. Soccer. The game’s influence is huge worldwide and growing in popularity in the United States. However, this has led to an increase in injuries. Finger dislocations, ankle sprains, and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears are common, contributing to 99,000 emergency room visits yearly.
  6. Swimming. Swimming does not often come to mind when thinking about dangerous sports. But drowning-related accidents are high; an average of 347 people die each year, and about one in five of them is 14 or younger. There were almost 80,000 ER visits due to swimming-related injuries in 2012.
  7. Skating. As in skateboarding, wrist and ankle injuries are prevalent. Both roller-skating and ice-skating contribute to more than 42,000 ER visits each year. While this number may be staggering, injuries have actually decreased since 2007.
  8. Skateboarding. These injuries often involve the wrists, knees, and ankles. However, helmets, knee, and elbow pads contributed to an almost 45% decrease in the number of skateboard-related injuries seen at the ER. Nevertheless, the 39,000 ER visits in 2012 show that this sport is still dangerous.
  9. Hockey. The sport is growing in popularity in the United States; in fact, it is now the sixth most popular. But between hitting other players and bumping into walls, it is also dangerous. More than 21,000 ER visits in 2012 were due to hockey-related injuries – a 14% increase since 2007.
  10. Volleyball. The sale of volleyball nets and balls climbed 16% from 2008 and 2013; there is no doubt it is a sport on the rise. And while it is not considered a contact sport, there is a list of related injuries. In 2012, more than 20,000 emergency room visits were for volleyball-related injuries. Players run into each other on the court, and shoulder injuries from spiking, serving, and blocking are common. Ankle and knee strains and finger dislocations are also prevalent.

Parents should be cautious when starting their children in any athletics, but these activities deserve particular attention. If your child has been in a sports-related accident, the West Virginia personal injury lawyers at Tiano O’Dell, PLLC can provide you with the information you need.