Market Power

Musings by an academic economist on the power of markets and the power over markets.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Spring Practice Injury Rates in College Football

This article in the Kansas City Star describes research that examines rates of injury to players in college football. The research finds that limiting spring practice times in NCAA football does not reduce injury rates. Here are some other interesting findings noted by the article:

1. Injury rates in the spring are three times higher than in the fall.
2. Of all scrimmages, the last one in the spring, the spring game, had the lowest rate of injuries. The other spring scrimmages had the highest rate of injuries of all scrimmages.
3. Limited-contact scrimmages (players wear pads but there is no tackling) had higher injury rates than full contact scrimmages.

Here are my thoughts on potential explanations for these findings.

On point 1: fall practice starts in August and players have more of an opportunity to get/stay in playing shape during the summer than before spring practice begins. Spring practice comes during the spring semester when players have largely been away from practicing for a few months and have been involved in their classes. If this is the reason for the difference in the injury rates, the research underscores how important it is not to jump into an activity whole-hog.

Also on point 1: spring practice may be more intense than fall practice because of the relatively short amount of time that coaches have to work new things in.

On point 2: by the time of the spring game, those most likely to get injured have been injured – this is the survival of the fittest.

On point 3: when someone injures a leg, it’s common for that person to begin to compensate for this injury by favoring that leg. Because of the extra stress put on the good leg, they end up hurting that leg. A similar thing probably happens in the limited-contact scrimmages. Instead of finishing a tackle, players let up. This could cause a player to sustain an injury that he otherwise would not have sustained.