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Student Athletes' Bill of Rights Introduced Into Congress

Source: The National Athletic Trainers' Association 

DALLAS, TEXAS, February 27, 2015 – The National Athletic Trainers’ Association supports the introduction of the Secondary School Student Athletes’ Bill of Rights into Congress. The resolution recognizes best practices toward maintaining a safe environment for America’s young athletes and raises awareness of the need for increased youth sports safety. It offers recommendations that any school can implement to make its student athletes safer and encourages secondary schools to take all available and reasonable steps to ensure that safety. The bill of rights enjoys bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress.

More than 7.7 million high school athletes participate in school sports each year. Among children, those ages 15-17 experience the highest rate of emergency room visits for sports injuries. Prevention of injury is critical because previous history is often a risk factor for future injury. Players with one or more previous injuries have two to three times greater risk of incident injury compared to those without previous injury.

This bill ensures that student athletes will be coached by individuals well trained in a particular sport; have pre-participation exams, concussion management and emergency action plans in place; as well as safe environmental conditions, equipment and on-site injury assessments, among other protocols. The bill was introduced as H.Res. 112 in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Ryan Costello (PA-6) and David Scott (GA-13) and was introduced as S.Res. 83 in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME).

“In its continued efforts to ensure sports safety on the playing field, NATA is particularly excited to support this vital piece of legislation, said Jim Thornton, MA, ATC, CES, president of the association. “We encourage parents to ask school officials about safety policies and protocols that keep their athletes on the field and off the sidelines,” he said.

“This legislation outlines essential elements that should be recognized by the athletes themselves, along with their parents, school and sports officials, and policymakers at all levels. We encourage you to contact your members of Congress to support passage of this vital resolution. It can have wide-sweeping effect on the safety of the athlete in an effort to prevent or reduce acute, chronic or potentially fatal consequences. Now is the time to act.”

Parents, school officials, coaches, administrators, athletic trainers and other health care professionals are urged to call their members of congress and ask for support of the Secondary School Student Athletes’ Bill of Rights. Visit www.house.gov and www.senate.gov for contact information. For more information on the Bill of Rights, please visit http://www.nata.org/government-affairs-advocacy/federal-government

The Bill of Rights states that secondary school student athletes have the right to:

1) be coached by individuals who are well-trained in sport-specific safety and to be monitored by athletic health care team members;
2) quality, regular pre-participation examinations and each athlete has the right to participate under a comprehensive concussion management plan;
3) participate in sporting activities on safe, clean playing surfaces, in both indoor and outdoor facilities;
4) utilize equipment and uniforms that are safe, fitted appropriately, and routinely maintained, and to appropriate personnel trained in proper removal of equipment in case of injury;
5) participate safely in all environmental conditions where play follows approved guidelines and medical policies and procedures, with a hydration plan in place;
6) a safe playing environment with venue-specific emergency action plans that are coordinated by the athletic health care team and regularly rehearsed with local emergency personnel;
7) privacy of health information and proper referral for medical, psychosocial, and nutritional counseling;
8) participate in a culture that finds ‘‘playing through pain’’ unacceptable unless there has been a medical assessment;
9) immediate, on-site injury assessments with decisions made by qualified sports medicine professionals; and
10) along with their parents, the latest information about the benefits and potential risks of participation in competitive sports, including access to statistics on fatalities and catastrophic injuries to youth athletes.

About NATA: National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) – Health Care for Life & Sport
Athletic trainers are health care professionals who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and sport-related illnesses. They prevent and treat chronic musculoskeletal injuries from sports, physical and occupational activity, and provide care for acute injuries. Athletic trainers offer a continuum of care that is unparalleled in health care. The National Athletic Trainers’ Association represents and supports 39,000 members of the athletic training profession. Visit www.nata.org

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