Survey reveals most kids expect to get hurt playing youth sports

When our children head out to play sports this fall, the pressure to win is so intense; a troubling new survey reveals 59% of young athletes say they expect to get hurt as part of the game. What’s even more surprising – local kids polled say coaches, teammates and in some cases even their own parents have tried to make them play injured and even suggested they hurt another player.  69% of young athletes who were hurt say they continued to play hurt and half of them say they hid their injuries so they could play. 

The just released survey of children (boys and girls), ages 8 – 14 who play sports reveals:

  • 63% say they have been hurt playing sports. 59% say it’s part of the game and they expect it.
  • 64% say they’re afraid someone will hurt them while playing sports.
  • 11% say they were offered gifts or money to hurt another player.

The survey was commissioned by the non-profit arm of i9 Sports, the nation’s first and fastest growing youth sports league.

The survey also reveals:

  • 81% of those who have been hurt say their teammates/friends have thought of them as tough, cool, a good player, or even a hero when they played hurt and “took one for the team.”
  • 42% of those hurt say they were called foul names if they sat out while hurt – some by their own mom and dad!  Names include “wuss,” “whimp,”  “cry baby” or “mama’s boy.” Other names were given but were too graphic to print.
  • 29% say they are secretly glad when a player on the other team gets hurt.

So who’s influencing our young players to rough-it-up at all cost?

  • 34% say their coaches’ priority is the win over safe play.
  • 16% of the respondents said they or their teammates tried to hurt another player.  When asked who gave them the idea, 57% said teammates, 23% said their mom or dad, and 11% said coaches.

Of the 37% of respondents who said someone made them or tried to make them play while hurt, 52% said it was a teammate, 41% said it was a coach, 35% said it was one of their parents.

“I’m concerned about the direction of youth sports," says Dr. Robert Cantu, renowned neurosurgeon, expert on youth sports safety and acclaimed author of the book Concussion and our Kids. “Over the past twenty years or so it’s all become so serious. Fun no longer seems to be the main object.  Now it seems to be about grooming your child to be a star…It can be taken to extremes.”

“Across the country, young players are all-too-frequent victims of a sports culture that’s turning its back on them,” says Mark Hyman, sports journalist and author of Until It Hurts: America’s Obsession With Youth Sports. “With each passing season youth sports seem to stray further and further from their core mission of providing healthy, safe and character-building recreation for children.”

More Than Band Aid Solutions:

  • i9 Sports, a national youth sports franchise that focuses on sportsmanship, team work, fair play and fun over winning, has created two solutions to help local parents, coaches and league operators identify youth sports safety issues:
  • i9 Sports 9 Steps to Safe Play – i9 Sports created a free, downloadable safety checklist   so local parents can make sure their children’s teams follow best safety practices.
  • i9 Sports Youth Sports Safety Survey – i9 Sports created  a free, downloadable survey  so local coaches and/or parents can give children to identify sports safety issues on the field before they become a big problem.

“We want the i9 Sports 9 Steps to Safe Play and the i9 Sports Youth Safety Survey to trigger some eye-opening discussions about dangerous behavior on the field to ignite real change,” says Brian Sanders, President of i9 Sports. “Parents and coaches may be surprised they have as much to learn about sports dangers as the children. We’re the adults here. The burden falls on us to direct the focus of youth sports leagues away from cut-throat winning and back to fun, safe play.”

* Editor’s Note:

  •  This online survey was done by a third party and commissioned by the nonprofit arm of i9 Sports. 
  •  Survey participants had no affiliation with i9 Sports.
  •  The survey included 348 respondents, 210 male and 138 female (ages 8 – 14)

Based in the Tampa Bay, Florida area, i9 Sports® is the first and fastest-growing youth sports league franchise company in the United States. With more than half a million members from New York to Hawaii, i9 Sports offers leagues, camps, and clinics for boys and girls ages 3-14 in today’s most popular team sports such as flag football, soccer, basketball and baseball.

A privately held company, i9 Sports was founded in 2003 by CEO Frank Fiume on the principle that the number one reason kids play organized sports is to have fun, not to become a draft pick.  Reinventing the industry, customers enjoy the i9 Sports Experience which emphasizes fun, safety and convenience as well as teaching the value of good sportsmanship.

Named #1 Children’s Fitness Franchise by Entrepreneur Magazine, i9 Sports has been ranked in their prestigious Franchise 500® issue the past six years. i9 Sports has also been listed among INC Magazine’s 5000 Fastest Growing Companies for the past three years and received Franchise Business Review’s Top 50 in Franchise Satisfaction Award for four years in a row.

For more information on i9 Sports, visit