Should WakeBoarding Be Banned


Wakeboarding is one of the most favorite water amusements that have a high possibility of injuries. The popularity of this kind of sports has risen significantly recently due to the challenges and hence excitements which the participants face. Despite the fact that this activity enhances physical fitness, it has some adverse effects on the players. The game involves aggressive turns in the air with a high possibility of lower extreme injuries, including the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture, traumatic brain injury, ankle sprains, shoulder dislocations, face and head injuries as well as cuts. The injuries are facilitated by the rapid acceleration of the boats, obstacles in the waterway, and participants’ failure to use protective gears. Some of the boats used in the wakeboarding are mounted with devices that enhance the wake by creating huge water waves. The waves are very challenging to go over them that can result in injuries. In addition, the boats move at very high speed. The discussion hereby focuses on analyzing and comparing the previous studies’ works of literature in order to draw a conclusion on whether the wakeboarding is supposed to be banned.

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Several studies have been conducted regarding the wakeboarding. For the players, this kind of sport largely contributes to their physical fitness, and hence the demand for the game is increasing (Knobloch 2016, p. 307). Since wakeboarding relies heavily on water waves, wake boats have been modelled and mounted with wake enhancers that create huge water waves, and they have capability of accelerating rapidly. Consequently, there are various studies conducted to establish the important health effects of this sport, especially the injuries that result from participating in it. Overall, these studies have established outcomes that are useful to the policy makers in the health departments as well as to the participants and potential wakeboarders.

Anterior cruciate muscle injuries are very common in the wakeboarding sport. Starr and Sanders (2012) organized a descriptive epidemiology study to reveal the prevalence of the lesions. They sought to establish the rate at which ACL injuries were occurring in the game. The researchers conducted a survey in different countries by sending questionnaires to amateur and professional wakeboarders. The study participants were asked about the history of their ACL injuries while participating in that kind of sports and were required to inform about the treatment mechanisms of the injuries. In total, there were 123 respondents, 42.3% of which reported having had ACL injuries while participating in the game, especially while attempting to land high waves (Starr & Sanders, 2012 p. 328). Only about 13.5% of the interviewees informed that catching the board edge in the water created a possibility of the participant to sustain injuries. About 37 participants attested that their ability to wakeboard was ruined by the injuries while injuries in 41 participants were repaired through surgery (Starr & Sanders 2012, p. 329). Axial compression was the primary mechanism of the ACL injuries. Traumas of the participants who continued with the game were repaired surgically (Starr & Sanders 2012, p. 330). From the study, it is evident that most participants in the wakeboarding sport sustain anterior cruciate muscle injuries. For players to continue participating in the game, their injuries must be treated through surgical means. Starr and Sanders (2012) suggested for further study to establish whether ACL injuries are at the highest point in the sport of wakeboarding (p. 331). Additionally, they claimed for the use of protective gears and helmet to minimize the severity of the injuries.

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Carson conducted an additional study concerning the injuries that resulted from wakeboarding in the year 2004. The background of his study is the potentiality of serious injuries in that sport. He hypothesized that damages that occur from wakeboarding are very common. The study aimed at patients and physicians. Data were collected through questionnaires that were distributed to the wakeboarders and orthopedic surgeons. There were 242 respondents, of which 156 were doctors and 86 patients who were all wakeboarders. 36% of the surgeons acknowledged treating wakeboarding injuries (Carson 2004, p. 168). They reported 122 injuries where 32% were anterior cruciate ligament tears and 15% shoulder dislocation. In addition, the surgeons informed that about 21% of the injuries were fractured. 77% of the participants in the wakeboarding sport had sustained injuries whereby 17% percent were ACL tears, 17% were ankle sprains, and other injuries were 66% (Carson 2004, p. 168). From the study, it is evident that by participating in the sport of wakeboarding, one can sustain serious injuries. The most common serious injuries are shoulder dislocation, anterior cruciate ligament as well as the ankle sprain (Carson 2004, p. 169). Moreover, the participants are prone to some fractures. Carson (2004) emphasizes the need for the game participants to use helmet and other protective gears in order for them to minimize their chances to sustain injuries (p. 172).

A study by Hostetler (2005) sought to reveal the characteristics of injuries related to wakeboarding and water skiing that were treated in the emergency departments in the USA. The targeted period was between the year 2001 and year 2003. The study focused on the types of injuries and body parts of the wakeboarders injured. Hostetler hypothesized that the frequency of injuries, their diagnoses, and the place they occur in the body differ with the type of sport. The study was descriptive epidemiology. Data were extracted from the electronic system that records national injuries from 98 hospitals in the department of emergency. The data encompassed injury diagnosis where it occurred in the body. The information collected had 95 patients with injuries associated with wakeboarding and 517 injuries related to water skiing. The injuries were an estimation of 4810 wakeboarding and 23460 water skiing traumas respectively reported within the period of three years (Hostetler 2005, p. 1067).

The study established that head injuries were very common in wakeboarders, and it was equal to 28.8% of all injuries and 4.3% in water skiers. In addition, it was evident that wake boarders sustained relatively higher traumatic brain injuries, namely 12.5%, than the water skiers (Hostetler 2005, p. 1068). Furthermore, cuts, especially on the faces, were very common in the participants of the wakeboarding. On the other hand, water skiers depicted a higher number of ankle sprains injuries that was about 36.3% of all reported injuries (Hostetler, 2005, p. 1068). From the study, it was evident that participants in the two kinds of sports sustained the different types of injuries more often in various parts of the body. Due to the high number of face and head injuries, the study revealed the importance of helmets and other protective gears to alleviate the wounds.

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Baker et al. (2010) conducted another research to compare injuries that were related to skiing, wakeboarding as well as tubing. Their primary focus was to establish the relationship of injuries sustained by the participants in the three games and injures of the wakeboarders’ body parts more frequently. The data were extracted from the national electronic system that survey and store the information related to injuries between the year 2000 and year 2007 (Baker et al. 2010). A sample of 1761 was used, and the data used encompassed the age and sex of the patients, the characteristics of the injuries as well as the parts of the body injured. The study established that in both the tubing and wakeboarding, injuries were very common in the head and neck with 47.9% constituting to the wakeboarding and 34.7% of the tubing-related traumas. Injuries on the head and neck related to skiing were 24.6 % (Baker et al. 2010). Head and neck lacerations were relatively higher in wakeboarding than in the other sports.

Lower extremity and hip injuries were common in water skiers followed by wakeboarders and least in the tubing. However, wakeboarding depicted a higher level of fractures than other kinds of sports. Shoulder injuries were almost similar in the three games. The age distribution of injuries related to wakeboarding was akin to those connected to tubing (Baker et al. 2010). More young people sustained the injuries than the older ones due to the increase in the rising generation’s participation. In addition, more male youth were reported to sustain injuries related to wakeboarding than the female ones. The level of injuries related to wakeboarding increased significantly from the year 2000 to the year 2007 by about 54 % (Baker et al. 2010). It is evident from the research that specific injuries are more common in water-related games than in other kinds of sports. The number of traumas and their severity can be reduced by moderating the towing speed as well as using protective gears and helmets.


From the studies, it is evident that the demand for water-related sports has increased significantly, especially among the young people. Wakeboarding is among the regular games. Despite the fact that it enhances the physical fitness of the participants, some sustain injuries in different parts of the body. Head, face, neck, and ankle are the most affected areas of the body. Considering the influence of the wakeboarding game on the health and the excitement effects to the participants and spectators, it should not be banned. However, stringent measures that advocate for the use of protective gears must be taken in order to minimize the resultant health adverse effects.