In sports with identical playing rules, girls reported head injuries at approximately twice the frequency that boys did, according to findings by the Michigan High School Athletic Association in the first year that member schools were required to report all suspected concussion in the state’s 28 sanctioned sports.
Longtime MHSAA executive director Jack Roberts noted that experts say girls suffer more concussion per thousand participants but said he was surprised by how many more.
“We found it stunning how many more head injuries were reported for girls than boys,” Roberts said. “As we delve deeper into the data, we hope to identify what physiological, social and psychological factors may contribute to this disparity – and how we can better prepare school personnel and especially coaches to watch for over- or under-reporting.”
According to the statistics released, Roberts cited basketball, soccer and baseball/softball for gender comparisons.
He said in soccer, girls reported 30 head injuries per 1,000 compared to 18 per 1,000 for boys. In basketball, girls reported 29 per 1,000 compared to 11 for boys; and in softball, girls reported 29 per 1,000 compared to four per 1,000 for boys in baseball.
Roberts noted that while there are other findings from the report, “what has the MHSAA’s attention is this giant gender difference.”
Overall, 4,452 confirmed head injury reports were submitted by 755 member high schools. Boys experienced 67 percent of those injuries, although participation in boys sports, especially contact sports, was higher than girls.
Eleven-man football ranked first with 49 head injuries per thousand participants, ice hockey was second at 38 per 1,000 and eight-man football was third at 34 per 1,000. Girls soccer was fourth (30) and girls basketball was fifth (29).
Roberts noted that the data collecting in future years will help determine year-to-year trends.