Deaths in BC Recreational Sports

This past fall, Football BC has had the horrific job of having to deal with two deaths in a sport still reeling from a death one year ago. As a parent, is this a wake up call to the danger aspect of sports? Should an athlete suddenly question their participation in certain activities? While the numbers vary depending on categorization, the undeniable fact is that people do during recreation activities.

The most disturbing fact is that young people with long futures ahead of them die at far too young an age, and often in preventable circumstances. Most people recognize the benefits of physical activities; the depth to which we engross ourselves is the point that is most often debated. The pressure we put on our youth today, more than ever, tends to take away the original intent of joining the various activities they partake in. Fun, companionship, and teamwork are the foundations of most activity.  We likely agree that physical activity and exercise is good for our health, why is it that people die doing their most loved activities? To understand the answer to this question we first need to look at where the deaths are occurring, and who is most commonly affected. The following statistics from the BC Coroners Office gives us some background:

 

(Selected) Recreation Deaths in BC

 

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

1998

1997

Golf

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

Horseback/Polo

1

4

1

 

 

1

 

 

Inline Skate

 

2

 

1

1

 

 

 

Mtn Bike

1

3

1

 

 

2

 

 

Skateboard

1

1

1

 

 

 

 

1

Team Sports

 

1

2

1

2

2

 

2

Snowboard

2

2

4

2

4

3

3

5

Snow Ski

6

11

7

6

2

6

10

 

Diving

1

2

1

2

3

1

2

2

Swimming

13

14

15

9

11

13

11

4

Gym/Health Club

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rec Centre

2

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

Other Rec.

1

3

5

10

12

18

3

4

 

The majority of deaths occur in snow ski/board and swimming, activities typically associated with youth and for the most part, individual sports. An important factor to point out is that, for the most part, these sports are performed with limited or no supervision, and no regular coaching. Given the number of deaths, should we be concerned with our youth engaging in these activities? Let’s look at the next set of statistics to answer this question:

 

(Selected) Teen Recreation Deaths in BC

Activity

2004

2003

2002  

2001

2000

1999

1998

1997

Golf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horse/Polo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inline Skating

 

1

 

1

1

 

 

 

Mountain Biking

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Skate Board

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Team Sports

 

 

1

1

2

 

1

 

Snow-board

 

 

1

 

2

1

 

1

Snow Ski

 

7

2

1

 

 

 

 

Diving

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swimming

 

3

1

5

4

3

5

2

Gym/Health Club

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

Rec. Ctr.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Rec.

 

1

1

1

2

4

 

1

 

 

% By Age (All Recreation Deaths)

 

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

1998

1997

Under 20

13.5

19.6

18.8

19

20.4

17

18

19

 

Without knowing the actual numbers of participants in any one activity, it would appear that our youth are no more vulnerable to sport fatalities than the general population. Without going into a complete statistical analysis; let’s review some of the numbers:

 

% By Gender (Teen Deaths Only)

 

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

1998

1997

Female

31

25.7

31

37

27

<37.7

24.8

30

 

 

% By Gender (All Recreation Deaths)

 

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

1998

1997

Female

15

<18.7

12

13

16

19.6

15

16

 

 

Teen vs Total Deaths

 

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

1998

1997

Teen Deaths

115

<228

211

193

226

252

133

157

Total Deaths

 

7102

7040

6527

6593

 

 

 

 

General analysis of BC deaths in recreation sports:

  • Teen deaths are a small fraction of all deaths in BC
  • Females account for 30.5% of all teen deaths, but only 15.5 % of recreation deaths
  • Recreation deaths are a small fraction of all deaths in BC
  • Teen recreation deaths are rare, as are all recreation deaths
  • More significantly, organized team sport deaths are very rare

Precautions:

While death and catastrophic injuries are rare in recreation sports, they do, and will continue to occur. There are some straightforward precautions that we can take to increase the safety of our children:

  • Monitor the health of active participants
  • Ensure all coaches and officials are certified, maintain, and update their first aid training
  • Ensure someone with recognized Sports First Aid training is present at all practices and games
  • Regularly practice your Emergency Action Plan
  • If medicals are required for participation, have a Physician with a Sports Medicine background perform a through evaluation, and then have the Team trainer follow-up with the Doctor regarding any red flags.

At the end of the day, we should let the kids have fun, hoping you will never have to put your training to the test, but also knowing that if it is tested, you are ready.

Copyright held by SportMedBC. For information contact info@sportmedbc.com.

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