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Injuries are a part of football, a risk players take every time they slip on a helmet and pads. But according to a study published in Research in Sports Medicine, a high school football player's risk of severe injury is greatest at the beginning of a game.

The study was conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy (CIRP) at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

"Not only does the time in competition affect injuries but also the phase of play," one of the study's authors, Dawn Comstock, PhD, said in a press release, "During kickoff and punting, a greater proportion of severe injuries occurred compared to all other phases of play. Thirty-three percent of injuries occurring during kickoff and punt were severe and 20 percent were concussions."

Makes sense, really. Special teams plays are more chaotic, the collisions more severe. Also, players can be more hyped up at the beginning of a game, or (in some cases) not properly warmed up.

In all, the study found that 16 percent of high school football injuries occurred at the beginning of a football game, with 54 percent occurring in the middle of the game and 30 percent at the end. So even though fewer injuries take place early in a game, the ones that do have a higher chance of being more serious. In all, 20 percent of injuries sustained were of the "severe" variety.

No word on exactly what injuries qualify as "severe." It'd be interesting to see how they categorize which injuries are severe and which are not. In any event, it's some interesting food for thought.

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