What Sport is More Dangerous: Football or Basketball

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There’s no doubt about it; football and basketball are two of the most dangerous team sports played in the United States. But what is the most dangerous sport, the one that injures players most frequently and most seriously, among all the ones played by the American public?

This is a complicated question and, unsurprisingly, has an equally complex answer. But we can help you figure out whether the risks of both sports are worth it.

What is the Risk of Injury in Playing Football vs. BasketballWhat is the Risk of Injury in Playing Football vs. Basketball?

Basketball and American Football participants play with an intensity and aggression that can lead to serious sports-related injuries. But, there’s a difference in types of injuries and rates of game injuries.

Basketball-Related Injuries

In basketball, players constantly jump and land hard, putting them at risk for knee, ankle, and chronic overuse injuries. Players often also suffer from knee injuries because of the wide range of motion they have to do on the court.

But, if we had to pick the most common basketball injury, it would have to be a jammed finger. Basketballs are typically passed around quickly and with power across the court. The number of hard passes thrown and all the other risky situations create the perfect atmosphere for basketball players to jam their fingers.

But these aren’t the only common injuries basketball players are always at risk of suffering while playing. Here’s a list of some of the other common basketball injuries:

  • Deep Thigh Bruising
  • Facial Cuts
  • Foot Fractures

Football-Related Injuries

Playing football can be an incredibly thrilling experience, with adrenaline-pumping plays in front of screaming fans. But along with the glory and excitement of competition come the risks of head-to-head collisions that can result in serious brain injuries, including concussions.

In recent years, we have seen a rise in both awareness and concern about the potential for long-term effects resulting from hard body checks, prompting teams to take steps to protect their players.

These steps include widening the distance between players during certain plays, advocating safer tackling techniques, and providing better helmets and other protective gear.

Taking these concerns seriously needs to remain a top priority as we look toward making sure all athletes can enjoy playing and competing safely!

Here are some of the other common sports injuries that football players often face:

  • Ankle sprains
  • Knee injuries
  • Quad, hamstring, and groin strains
  • Hip pointers
  • Shoulder dislocations
  • Acromioclavicular sprains
  • Wrist and hand injuries
  • Football concussions

Injury Rate in Football vs. BasketballInjury Rate in Football vs. Basketball

When it comes to the rate of injury in sports, basketball has definitely sent more kids and adults to the emergency room. From a study conducted from 2003 to 2007, the sport’s annual injury rate was 1.49 per 1,000 basketball players, while football was at 0.93 per 1,000 football players.

With these numbers, it’s easy to misconstrue basketball as the more dangerous sport of the two. However, the participation rate in basketball nearly quadruples that of football, so it’s only natural that the total number of injuries is higher.

The more accurate number to consider when judging whether injury from participation is more likely is how many players get injured in context to the time spent actually playing the sport. In this case, the rate of injury in football exceeds that of basketball’s. 

In this new metric, basketball scored a 2.69 incidence rate per 10,000 hours of play, while football scored a whopping 5.08. Looking at this new denominator, it’s evident that the rate of injury in football is much higher compared to basketball. Researchers deduct that this is due to the fact the participation rate in basketball nearly quadruples that of football which leads to its higher rate of injury per 10,000 hours.

How Dangerous is Playing FootballHow Dangerous is Playing Football?

The rate of experiencing severe injuries is also more pronounced in football than in basketball. It is, after all, classified as a contact sport, whereas basketball isn’t.

Every year in football, tens of thousands of players suffer serious sports-related injuries, ranging from concussions to broken bones. In addition, football players are more likely to suffer from long-term health problems, such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

CTE is a degenerative brain disease that can lead to dementia, speech impediments, depression, and suicide. While the exact cause of CTE is still unknown, it is clear that football is a significant contributor. Consequently, many parents are beginning to question whether the risks of playing football are worth it.

However, for many young athletes, football allows them to compete and show their skills. It also instills values such as teamwork and discipline. 

What are the Dangers of Playing BasketballWhat are the Dangers of Playing Basketball?

Just because basketball is classified as a non-contact sport, it automatically means it’s a safer sport. In fact, basketball players can also suffer from traumatic brain injuries and concussion-related injuries. 

The only difference is that these types of injuries occur much less often in basketball compared to American football. Instead, basketball players tend to suffer chronic overuse injuries such as recurring ankle sprains and ACL tears.

Studies have shown that basketball players are six to eight times more likely to suffer an ankle injury than a football player and as high as four times as likely to have lower back issues due to postural problems during a game. One of the main contributors to this increased risk is the hardwood playing surface.

Unlike synthetic surfaces, hardwood provides a minimal cushion when landing or jumping, which puts additional strain on muscles and joints. This lack of shock absorbency can also be dangerous when running at high speed, putting athletes at greater risk of sprains or other contracture injuries.

There are measures that coaches and athletic trainers can take to try and counteract this, such as implementing specific conditioning programs for increasing muscle tone and stability and using basketball-specific shoes designed to absorb the trauma of basketball movements.

Injury risks in basketball almost solely consist of injuries with no lasting effects, whereas many injured football players end up in long-term care hospitals.

Top 5 Reasons Why Football is More Dangerous Than BasketballTop 5 Reasons Why Football is More Dangerous Than Basketball

Football and basketball are two of the most popular sports in the United States. This is because both are physical activities that require a certain amount of skill and athleticism. However, regarding safety, football is far more dangerous than basketball. Here are some of the reasons why:

  • First, football is a contact sport, while basketball is not. This means that players are constantly colliding with each other, which can lead to severe injuries.
  • Second, football players wear a lot of protective gear, including helmets and pads, but they are still susceptible to concussions and other head injuries.
  • Third, football players are often tackled violently or thrown to the ground due to the nature of the game, which can cause broken bones or other serious injuries.
  • Fourth, football fields are often made of soft artificial turf. However, the fast sprints and the hard tackles often negate this advantage.
  • Finally, the ball itself is very hard, and players can get injured if they’re hit by it in the wrong way.

So, while football and basketball may be exciting sports to watch and play, it’s important to remember that football is much more dangerous than basketball. The sport tends to leave permanent damage on its players.

Wrapping Things Up: What Sport is More Dangerous: Football or Basketball?

If you’re thinking about getting your children involved in either basketball or football, figuring out what sport has the worst injuries may be at the forefront of your mind.

While both sports entail an inherent risk, recent studies have suggested that basketball may be safer than football.

Football tends to have a lower injury incidence rate overall. Still, the severity of injury, especially when contextualized with the rate of participation, it seems that football is the more dangerous sport. 

Football injuries include long-lasting damage such as concussion and cervical spine injury due to full contact tackles. At the same time, basketball is characterized by less intense body-to-body contact giving it a lower injury rate overall.

So, while basketball indeed injures more players in annual totals, the severity of injury and the rate of injury per 10,000 hours of play make it indisputably the more dangerous sport.

We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.


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Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

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