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Playing it safe with breakaway bases.

Playing it safe with breakaway bases

"Safe!" yells the umpire after your dust-raising slide into second. "Aargh!" you say, realizing you've just hit the base like an out-of-control snowplow. Between 1983 and 1987, post-game celebrations were marred by crutches, splints and emergency rooms for more than 4,000 players reporting injuries to the American Softball Association. But scientists at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor say they have a better idea for the 40 million softball players in the United States.

By using breakaway bases, modified to release from their moorings when hit by a sliding player, softball enthusiasts could significantly reduce the number of injuries, say David H. Janda and his co-workers. They had found in an earlier study that sliding causes 71 percent of recreational softball injuries. Aware that outlawing base sliding would "offend the purists," the researchers studied softball games to see if simply changing bases would lower injury rates. In 633 games played on breakaway-base fields and 627 games on stationary-base fields, the researchers found that injuries occurred about 23 times more frequently with stationary bases. Although the cost of breakaway bases is about twice that of stationary bases, they report in the March 25 JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION that using the new bases would lead to "a significant reduction in the quantity and the resultant morbidity of softball injuries." They caution, however, that "poor timing, inadequate physical conditioning and alcohol consumption" can still make a player an armchair athlete.
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Title Annotation:new bases to prevent softball injuries
Publication:Science News
Date:Apr 9, 1988
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