Overuse Injuries in Youth Sports: Legal and Social Responsibility


  • Phoebe Friesen University of Oxford
  • Bethany Saul New York University
  • Lisa Kearns NYU School of Medicine
  • Kathleen Bachynski New York University
  • Arthur Caplan NYU School of Medicine




Youth sports-related injuries represent a major public health challenge, and overuse injuries, which result from repetitive microtrauma and insufficient rest, are a particular and growing concern. Overuse injuries are increasingly prevalent within youth sports, can lead to lifelong disabilities, and are almost entirely preventable. We explore the question of whether parents, who have been shown to significantly influence their children’s sports experiences and behaviors, can be held responsible for overuse injuries. We also discuss the role of other actors, including medical practitioners and coaches, and the duties that they may have to prevent such injuries to child athletes. We argue that, in many cases, contributions to overuse injuries are the result of non-culpable ignorance, and that a better way to help prevent overuse injuries may be to enact policies that educate parents, as well as schools, coaches, and organizations, about overuse injuries.

Author Biographies

Phoebe Friesen, University of Oxford

Phoebe Friesen, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow in the Ethox Center at the University of Oxford.

Bethany Saul, New York University

Bethany Saul is a JD candidate at New York University (NYU) Law School.

Lisa Kearns, NYU School of Medicine

Lisa Kearns, MS, MA, is a senior research associate in the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU School of Medicine.

Kathleen Bachynski, New York University

Kathleen Bachynski, PhD, is a Rudin postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Medical Ethics and Humanities at NYU.

Arthur Caplan, NYU School of Medicine

Arthur Caplan, PhD, is the Drs. William F. and Virginia Connolly Mitty Professor and Director of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU School of Medicine.






Original Research