Youth Athletes Left Unprotected

Given the dangerous injuries that NFL players have been known to suffer from—and as sports leagues try to figure out some national rules to prevent these injuries—many would be surprised to find out that there are no guidelines whatsoever to protect young athletes under the age of eighteen. In fact, it is up to each individual state and school within them to ensure that kids are safe when they play sports. Yet most have yet to put any safety measures in place, arguably leading to lawsuits springing up against organized sports leagues and the permanent damage some high impact contact sports are having on kids’ lives.


As of now, each state has its own high school athletic association and all policies must be approved individually, making progress slow-going. As a result, the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and the athletic trainers’ association have prepared a new program called “Collaborative Solutions for Safety in Sport.” The program just started holding meetings with high school representatives from each state to provide guidance in establishing safety rules and policies.


An Issue in Many Sports

While many people might assume that their child is safe because this only applies to kids who participate in high impacts sports—like football and rugby—in fact, a lack of training is affecting kids in all sports. For example, one family lost their daughter because she went into cardiac arrest during a lifeguarding class and no one recognized or initiated CPR for her.


In fact, brain-related traumatic injuries aren’t the only cause of sports-related deaths; sudden cardiac arrest, neck and head injuries, heatstroke (brought on by exertion), and sickling (in athletes who have the sickle cell trait) are all leading causes of death in high school athletes.


Simple Solutions?

The problem is bigger than most would image: last year alone, at least 50 athletes—high school age—died—and thousands were injured—entirely due to incidents that could have been avoided had their programs adopted and practiced safety rules focused on:


  • Emergency action plans;
  • Policies regarding proper conditioning and safely exercising when it is hot and humid (i.e. “climatization” policies);
  • Ensuring that trained health professionals are present at all practices and games; and
  • Ensuring that automated external defibrillators (A.E.D.s)—which have been likened to fire extinguishers in terms of necessities for schools—are immediately available to reset an erratic or stilled heart.


Although some states have passed laws requiring that every school have A.E.D.s, often these machines are locked up or no one knows how to use them, defeating the entire purpose of the requirement.


And what about teaching the athletes themselves how to recognize the signs in each other? Advocates for training students have created “Athletes Saving Athletes” to do precisely that. Parents should also ensure that all high school athletes have a pre-participation medical exam which includes an EKG if there is a family history of heart trouble. In addition, all coaches should be required to know CPR and how to use an A.E.D., how to recognize concussions, and when to keep a player out due to a potential injury.


Contact Personal Injury Attorneys

If you or your child has suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence, the attorneys at Harrell & Nowak can help you. Contact our Louisiana injury lawyers today for a free consultation and find out how to get legal help.