Soccer participation has increased steadily for both boys and girls since the early 1980s, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.
The U.S. Soccer Federation says that more than one million players under age 19 are registered with the USSF Youth Division in Memphis.Although soccer has not replaced football as the sport of choice among high school boys, the dramatic increase in participation says it may someday rival football.
Is soccer safer than football? Both soccer and football are contact sports. However, unlike football, soccer does not permit intentional efforts to neutralize an opposing player. The sport uses a penalty system that evicts offending players from the game, leaving the team short and at a disadvantage.
The amount of player-to-player contact in soccer is more like that experienced by basketball players.
Recent studies suggest that football is much more dangerous than soccer or basketball.
"The Physician and Sportsmedicine" (August 1987) reported that 66 percent of cervical spine injuries in adolescents are linked to football.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) reports that football is the most hazardous organized competitive sport.
According to the American Journal of Sports Medicine, the majority of soccer injuries, about 75 percent, can be classified as minor. These include strains, sprains or contusions. The most frequently injured areas are the lower extremities, where more than 50 percent of the injuries occur. These include ankle strains and sprains, contusions and knee strains and sprains. Wrist, shoulder, groin and face injuries also occur. Neck and head injuries may occur when players use their heads to control the ball, or when they fall or collide with another player.
Some factors contributing to soccer injuries include:
-Poor field conditions and rule violations
-Player has poor flexibility
-Incomplete rehabilitation from a previous injury
-Attempting maneuvers beyond player's capability
Some deterrents to injury include providing proper supervision, which would discourage foul play, and encouraging players to report minor injuries to prevent overuse injuries which are often chronic, long-term, and being more serious.