The opportunity to play sports is important for students of all ages. Participation in sports promotes discipline, teamwork and social skills as well as physical fitness. However, student safety is our top priority at the Fairfax Christian School; in order to protect our students, we are selective about the sports we offer. The sports examined below represent a risk too great for FCS to sponsor in good conscience.
Tackle football is the sport most notorious for injury to its players. According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research (NCCSI), which keeps records of sports injuries from the 1930s to the present day, football consistently produces a higher rate of catastrophic injuries than any other high school sport. Fatalities have decreased over the surveyed period, due largely to improvements in safety equipment, but injuries that cause permanent disability are still prevalent among high school football players.
Serious injuries from tackle football with short- and long-term consequences include knee injuries, fractures and concussions. Knee injuries often involve tears to vital ligaments and/or cartilage. A tear to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) causes knee weakness and instability, and may require surgical reconstruction and lengthy rehabilitation. ACL injuries often occur in conjunction with medial collateral ligament (MCL) injuries, compounding the sufferer's discomfort and weakness. Likewise, damage to the meniscus cartilage in the knee may occur alone or alongside a ligament tear, raising the likelihood of a need for surgery. Injuries of this nature often have repercussions for years afterwards; the damage to ligaments and surrounding cartilage worsens over time to create chronic pain, weakness, and mild to severe joint damage, including osteoarthritis of the knees.
The majority of serious injuries in tackle football result from physical contact between players. The nature of the game encourages high-velocity impact, which naturally increases the risks of ligament tears and concussive force. FCS offers flag football as a no-contact alternative to tackle football, greatly decreasing the risk of catastrophic injury and debilitation.
An increasingly popular sport in Northern Virginia, lacrosse combines the risks of a running sport with the dangers of heavy equipment. The coincidence of two types of risk factors drastically increases the likelihood of serious injury to high school players.
Because of the fast-paced, torsion heavy action of the game, lacrosse carries the risk of sprains to the ACL and MCL, the same ligaments frequently damaged in tackle football. Sprains to these ligaments, while less severe than outright tearing, still cause serious pain and incur lengthy recovery time for young athletes.
Like football, lacrosse also boasts a high incidence of concussions and fractures. The lacrosse stick is the underlying cause of both types of injury; throughout the game, and especially while scrapping for the ball, players and sticks collide in a mêlée of potential trauma. According to data published by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, rib fractures and moderate concussions are the most common serious injuries among high school lacrosse players. Female players are especially at risk of head injuries, whereas male players have a greater risk of rib fractures.
The rigorous sport of gymnastics is a leading cause of catastrophic sports-related injuries in girls, second only to cheerleading. Most of these injuries involve the spine and neck, incurred through mistakes in body alignment during dismount and at other occasions of stress or impact. Fatalities are uncommon, but the lasting impact on the cartilage between vertebrae may lead to long-term pain and disability.
Another severe injury associated with gymnastics is the stress fracture. Recurring incidence of impact or trauma to the same bone in the body, which typically results from repeatedly practicing the same routine, causes a serious weakening or incomplete break of the bone. Unlike a sudden and complete break, stress fractures may be mistaken for less serious injuries, increasing the possibility of compounding the injury and causing chronic pain or bone weakness for years afterwards.