Making sports safer
As a high school sports official for over 35 years, I can tell you that everyone involved with high school athletics is doing all we can to ensure the athletesí safety.
Coaches are more aware of the long term consequences of any injury the student sustains and are doing their best teach their sport in the appropriate techniques of play. Athletic trainers are, on site, to aid in the diagnosis of injuries and having the authority to remove, and keep out of action, any student who displays signs or symptoms of injury. The injured athlete may not return until cleared by trained professionals.
Sports officials, know, by rule, what our protocol is when we see these signs and symptoms of injury.
Everyone involved with the athleteís safety are now on the same page.
The consequences for returning a athlete to action before they are ready are harsh. Therefore, those involved, take every precaution before the athlete may participate again.
One factor that has been left out, that of the parents. Far too many parents still push their children beyond reasonable expectations. Many parents envision their child as a ďcollege scholarshipĒ-caliber athlete who must play at all times. If their child is injured, these parents, may see the expected scholarship disappear.
So what have they done in the past? Pushed them back into competition before the athlete is ready. For the most part, parents can no longer do this. Parents can not go to coaches, trainers, etc to push for the athleteís return to competition. Clearance must be given by the appropriate medically trained individual.
I can tell you that there isnít (or shouldnít be) one professional who will let a parentís pressure get before their duties to the student/athlete.
I officiate in Massachusetts as well as Vermont. In Massachusetts, I must carry on my person, a certificate, that I have taken the NFHS concussion course. This is an annual process I must go through, in order to officiate in Massachusetts. It is my understanding that the Vermont Legislature, with VPA backing, is working on something simlar to what Massachusetts is requiring. If this is true, I wholly endorse such a measure.
Will all these measures end devistating injuries to the athlete? Unfortunately, no. Just like our daily lives there are risks involved. Most of us do fine, as do the athlete.
Our heightened awareness and reaction to athleteís injuries grows every year. Those of us involved are doing our all to make sure that safety is paramount in practice and games.
Peter Everett Sr
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