A safer approach to
work, life and sport

PARENTS

As a parent of a student athlete, you are already aware of the benefits of sports. Student athletes are generally more physically fit, more socially engaged and more committed to staying in school.71

They also experience a clear advantage later in life. They are more successful in their careers, more attuned to teamwork and more committed to seeing tasks all the way through. But involvement in high school sports can also mean experiencing certain risks.

UNDERSTAND YOUR HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETES’ RISKS

High school athletes can face a variety of challenges due to their involvement in sports.

  • 90 PERCENT of student athletes report some sort of sports-related injury in their athletic careers.43
  • 54 PERCENT of student athletes report they have played while injured.43
  • 37 PERCENT of high school athletes say they have experienced sprains.
  • 12 PERCENT report they have sustained concussions and head injuries from their time on the field. In 2012 alone,
  • 163,670 MIDDLE SCHOOL OR HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETES were reported being seen in the emergency room for a concussion.4

SPORTS-RELATED DEATHS

But sports injuries aren’t the only thing that parents of a student athlete need to worry about. Between 2008 and 2015, nearly 300 SPORTS-RELATED DEATHS of youth athletes occurred. These tragic deaths occurred from a variety of causes, but sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is reported as the leading cause of death among young athletes.15

SPORTS-RELATED DRUG ABUSE

While young people who participate in high school sports are statistically less likely to use marijuana, they are more likely to use performance-enhancing drugs. Risk factors for the abuse of anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) include peer pressure, media exposure, parental pressure, a history of depression, a negative body image and a tendency to compare one’s own body with known AAS users.59

DO YOUR PART TO PROTECT YOUNG STUDENT ATHLETES

The stakes are alarmingly high. This is why parents of a student athlete must do his or her part to help keep their child safe.

What can you do as a parent? Plenty. Let your child know the statistics. Encourage them to never play injured. Remind them no game is so important that it’s worth endangering a student athlete’s well being. But the most important thing a parent can do is become an advocate for sports safety by ensuring that your student athlete has proper medical support during games and practice, supporting sports safety legislation and knowing the signs and symptoms of injury or illness.

Athletic trainers are equipped to provide student athletes a multitude of services. Athletic trainers provide medical care and supervision during games and practice, and develop injury prevention programs to keep athletes healthy and on the field. Additionally, athletic trainers are able to assist with injury prevention education during practice and one-on-one time with athletes and through regular communication with parents.

Relying on coaches, administrators, and volunteers to provide medical services puts the athlete, school and its employees at risk. By encouraging the addition of a full-time or even part-time athletic trainer to your school’s staff you can help protect your student athletes from sports-sustained injuries and even death. Help make this happen by talking to your school today.

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6 KEY QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR SCHOOLS

  1. Who comprises the school’s sports medicine team?
    Find out who will provide care to your child in case of an injury, and ask to review their credentials. Many schools and sports teams rely on athletic trainers or parents with medical and first aid training and certification to keep kids safe. NATA recommends that any medical decisions be made by the school’s sports medicine professionals (physicians and athletic trainers) and not the coach to avoid conflict of interest. Coaches and even the athletes themselves may unconsciously make decisions that favor winning over safety.
  2. Does the school/league have an emergency action plan?
    Every team should have a venue-specific written emergency action plan, reviewed by the athletic trainer or local Emergency Medical Service. Individual assignments and emergency equipment and supplies need to be included. If an athletic trainer is not employed by the school or sport league, other qualified individuals need to be present to render care. Only 22 percent of states have met the recommendations that every school or organization sponsoring athletics develop an EAP for managing serious and or potentially life-threatening injuries.
  3. Is the equipment in working order?
    Make sure all equipment ranging from field goals, basketball flooring, gymnastics apparatus and field turf are in safe and working order. This also includes emergency medical equipment such as spine boards, splint devices and AEDs (which should be checked once per month; batteries and pads need consistent monitoring and replacing). Accidents can occur in every activity, and that is why the AT should be on site after school to help ensure all equipment is safe and in good order.


  1. How qualified are the coaches?
    A background check should always be performed on coaches and volunteers:
  • Coaches should have background and knowledge in the sport they are coaching. They should be credentialed if that is a requirement in the state, conference or league.
  • All coaches should have cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), automated external defibrillators (AED) and first aid training.
  • Coaches should strictly enforce the sports rules and have a plan for dealing with emergencies.
  • Are locker rooms, gyms and shower surfaces cleaned on a regular basis?
    With the advent of MRSA and related bacterial, viral and fungal skin infections in recent years, it is critical to keep these surfaces routinely cleaned and checked for germs. Athletes must be discouraged from sharing towels, athletic gear, water bottles, disposable razors and hair clippers. All clothing and equipment should be laundered and/or disinfected on a daily basis.
  • Does the school have an AED and someone who knows how to use it?
    Many schools today have AEDs on site during competitions which if used efficiently and effectively can save a life and stave off a catastrophic situation. Ensure that the medical expert and other personnel know where they are located, how to use them and that they are placed on sidelines during both practice and games.

BE PART OF THE SOLUTION
Reduce your risks. Learn more about how you can become an athletic trainer advocate.

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“What parents often don’t seem to realize is that if a child’s body is overworked at an early age, he or she might not be able to stay in that sport long enough to make it to high school varsity, let alone to the elite level they so desperately desire.”

–  ANY GIVEN MONDAY, DR. JAMES R. ANDREWS