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March 28, 1959


Author Affiliations

Cambridge, Mass.

Chief of Surgery, University Health Services, Harvard University, and Lecturer on Surgery, Harvard Medical School.

JAMA. 1959;169(13):1405-1409. doi:10.1001/jama.1959.03000300001001

The records of 14,375 contestants in organized college athletics over a period of 17 years, embracing 36,050,885 practice-periods or games, showed 3,453 injuries severe enough to exclude the player from one or more subsequent practice or game sessions. This high incidence of 24% indicates the need for insisting on the player's "bill of rights" which is here stated. It includes good coaching, good equipment, and good medical care. The medical care includes a thorough preseason examination, the presence of a physician on the playing field, and due respect for his authority. A case history illustrates the prolonged disability and permanent residual damage done by ill-advised treatment of athletic injuries. Responsibility for diagnosis and treatment of athletic injuries should not be imposed on coaches and trainers but assumed and duly discharged by the physician.