Editors note: In the wake of recent tragedies in high school sports, CIAC Associate Executive Director Steve Wysowski offers thoughts on what coaches and schools can do to reassure concerned parents and athletes.
Recent tragedies involving high school athletes raise the question: should I allow my son/daughter to participate on a high school athletic team? While it is impossible to offer a guarantee of 100% certainty that he or she will not suffer a serious injury it is a safe statement to offer that high school athletics are safer now than ever before. Coaches in Connecticut are well trained to handle emergencies, and districts operating through their schools have established emergency action plans and have protocols in place that ensure that the fastest and most qualified care will be afforded to student athletes for both practices and contests.
Pre-season meetings with parents allow districts to deliver the signed consent forms on concussions and sudden cardiac arrest, teams are now looking for parents to be part of the team that helps establish student-athlete safety. Parents are more aware of how some illnesses can increase the risk of a physical injury and are more likely to obtain the opinion of a certified health care professional when they have suspicions about their child’s health so that does not happen. We know that high school programs now review with their athletic teams protocols for heat related problems and how to avoid them, all coaches receive training in that area and all CIAC Sport Packets contain the recommendations for safe practices when heat or extreme cold exist.
The prevalence of athletic trainers has increased and their presence, while sometimes spread thinly assures another layer of safety when dealing with sports related injuries. Recently CIAC teamed up with The National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research and now mandates that all schools with football programs take part in the “Reporting Information Online Program(RIO) so that Connecticut can obtain solid data about its practices in the sport of high school football. This is a start to backing up sport safety practices in the near future so that high school athletics become even safer than they are now!
One can plainly see that Connecticut is on the forefront of best practices when it comes to safety in high school sports. We know that athletic programs are the safest that they have ever been and we will continue to improve an already sound system!