Objectives: To determine acceptable levels of risk in sport and to compare these with values used in occupational settings.
Design: Cross-sectional, questionnaire-based study.
Settings: Seven soccer and 11 rugby union teams.
Subjects: 140 male athletes and 108 male and 100 female spectators associated with soccer and rugby union teams.
Main outcomes: Views on acceptable frequencies with which athletes sustain acute injuries of various levels of severity.
Results: The responses of athletes and spectators were similar, although spectators consistently indicated a higher acceptable frequency of injury than athletes. There were no significant differences in responses as a function of respondents’ gender and age. The results confirmed an inverse relationship between the acceptable frequency of occurrence and the severity of injury, although the relationships identified by the risk-averse and risk-taking minorities within the sample population were widely different.
Conclusion: The mean frequency–severity risk relationship identified by athletes and spectators in soccer and rugby was similar to the relationship routinely used for risk assessments in industry and commerce.