Table 1

Descriptive coding

VariableCoding options/rulesN (%)
News sourceAssociated Press175 (70)
New York Times37 (15)
Philadelphia Inquirer38 (15)
Single injury event
Is there a distinct injury event being discussed?Yes220 (88)
Code ‘No’ if the story is more thematicNo30 (12)
Freak accident focus
Is the majority of the story focused on the freak accident event OR do the headline and story lead focus on the injury?Yes140 (56)
No110 (44)
Use of term
Who is employing the term ‘freak accident’ (in quotes/attributed)?Journalist/person writing article102 (41)
Injured person47 (19)
Coach18 (7)
Team mate12 (5)
Family member of the injured person12 (5)
Owner11 (5)
Spokesperson (agency, team, etc)11 (5)
Other6 (3)
Medical treatmentYes (write in who provided treatment if mentioned)122 (55)
No or not clear or not indicated/not discussed98 (45)
Age of injured personYes: injured person is ≤17 years (use for high school players)21 (9.5)
No: injured person ≥18 years (use for college players or professional athletes)
Injured person appears to be an adult but no age is provided
Not clear or not indicated
Injury happened in or around a home?Yes24 (11)
Not indicated
Injured person a professional?Yes (including Olympic athletes)134 (61)
Not clear/indicated
Circumstances of injury event? Only coded for subset where injured person is a professional athlete.During competition54 (40)
During practice32 (34)
Not during sports activity29 (21)
Not clear or not indicated19 (14)
Prevention contentOpen coding then recoded (see table 2):
Ambiguous (either unspecific talk of prevention or extensive discussion of cause)
Phenomenological consideration of ‘freak accident’
How do people account for when things go wrong or explain why it happened? Why is someone using the term ‘freak accident’?Open coding then recoded (see table 3)