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Am J Prev Med. 2010 Jan;38(1 Suppl):S141-7. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2009.10.010.

Mechanisms of flag-football injuries reported to the HQ Air Force Safety Center a 10-year descriptive study, 1993-2002.

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AFSC, Analysis and Integration Division, Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, USA.



Flag (touch or intramural) football is a popular sport among the U.S. Air Force (USAF) active duty population and causes a substantial number of lost-workday injuries. The purpose of this study is to describe the mechanisms of flag-football injuries to better identify effective countermeasures.


The data were derived from safety reports obtained from the USAF Ground Safety Automated System. Flag-football injuries for the years 1993-2002 that resulted in at least one lost workday were included in the study conducted in 2003. Narrative data were systematically reviewed for 32,812 USAF mishap reports; these were then coded in order to categorize and summarize mechanisms associated with flag football and other sports and occupational injuries.


Nine hundred and forty-four mishap reports involving active duty USAF members playing flag football met the criteria for inclusion into this study. Eight mechanisms of injury were identified. The eight mechanisms accounted for 90% of all flag-football injuries. One scenario (contact with another player) accounted for 42% of all flag-football injuries.


The most common mechanisms of injury caused by playing flag football can be identified using the detailed information found in safety reports. These scenarios are essential to developing evidence-based countermeasures. Results for flag football suggest that interventions that prevent player contact injuries deserve further research and evaluation. The broader implications of this study are that military safety data can be used to identify potentially modifiable mechanisms of injury for specific activities such as flag football.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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