5 High-Risk Sports That Kids Play

Sports are an important part of a child's education and upbringing. Kids learn teamwork, communication, to accept mistakes and failures, how to handle high-pressure situations, and leadership.

Any sport can help accomplish these goals, but some sports are better suited for healthy living than others, and it's important for parents to consider the risk of brain injury when choosing children's sports. Traumatic brain injury is particularly damaging to developing brains, and even seemingly mild injuries can cause permanent damage. The following sports are particularly high risk:


American football is perhaps currently the sport most associated with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease caused by repeated brain injuries. A large number of former professional players have been diagnosed with CTE, and CTE has been found in players at the college and high school level as well. Football has the highest rate of brain injury among high school sports and parents should be wary of allowing their children to play at any level.


Both ice hockey and field hockey have high rates of brain injury among high school students, and professional ice hockey players have been identified as having high rates of CTE. Although discussions are underway regarding instituting more safety protocols in the sport, hockey currently has a high risk of brain injury.


Soccer has long been considered a “safe” sport among American parents because concussions are rarer than in football, but it is now being recognized as a serious CTE risk. The reason for that is although soccer players are less likely to get concussions than football players, soccer players often suffer mild brain injuries that are less obvious at the time of injury but can still lead to CTE further down the line. Many youth leagues are starting to discuss additional safety measures, but soccer currently has one of the highest rates of brain injury for high school athletes.


A recent study found wrestling to have the highest concussion rate among college sports. While coaches and governing body officials insist that the high rate of reported concussions reflects the sport's vigilance in reporting rather than the sport's inherent risks, parents may find that suggestion less than reassuring.


While basketball is not as much a contact sport as the others in this list, it is a fast-paced, high energy game and it is one of the sports with the highest reported rates of brain injury among high school athletes.

But Do Not Discourage Extracurriculars or Other Sports

Extracurricular activities and clubs can help a student begin to feel more self-assured and independent. They also, particularly sports, help students develop communication, teamwork, and leadership skills. So while you may a little bit wary of the dangers of certain sports, it’s not smart to completely discourage any interest in sports or other after school activities.






Ian Walsh