By DAVID WILLIAMSON
UNC-CH News Services
CHAPEL HILL -- Dr. Frederick O. Mueller, professor and chairman of physical education, exercise and sport science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has been named winner of the Dr. Ernst Jokl Sports Medicine Award for 1997.
The award, presented annually by the United States Sports Academy, is given for lasting contributions to the growth and development of sports medicine through practice or scholarship. It is the top honor in its field and will be presented to Mueller later this year.
Previous winners of the award include Sir Roger Bannister, the first athlete to run a mile in less than four minutes, and a physician who has maintained a lifelong interest in sports medicine and physiology.
Mueller was selected because for many years he has maintained a nationwide system for collecting information on catastrophic sports injuries and deaths. Statistics he compiled, first with Dr. Carl Blyth, also of UNC-CH, on football injuries and deaths helped lead to rule changes and improved coaching credited with saving dozens of lives a year in the United States.
In 1968, for example, 36 boys and young men died from accidents on U.S. football fields, either in practice or in games. By 1990, no such deaths were identified, and since then fewer than a half dozen have occurred each year.
Among Mueller's achievements has been discovering and documenting that in recent years, cheerleading has been the most dangerous sport for girls. He also has helped make that sport safer as well. He chairs the American Football Coaches' Committee on Football Injuries and directs the UNC-CH based National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research.
The United States Sports Academy was founded following the 1972 Olympics in Munich in part because of a report Mueller co-wrote with Blyth about the comparatively poor training of coaches and trainers in this country.
The award was named in honor of Jokl, an outstanding 400-meter runner and hurdler for the German Olympic team in 1928. After coming to the United States in 1952, the physician was named director of the University of Kentucky Rehabilitation Center.
Note: Mueller can be reached at (919) 962-5171.