By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen

How does your athletic association rate?

How you do you choose where your children play sports? Certainly location, fees, relationships with coaches, and social connections all play a big part of that decision, but what about safety?

All too often, parents assume that their athletic associations have safety measures at the top of their priority list, but I’m here to tell you that is not always the case. It’s up to us, as guardians of our athletes, to ensure safety stays top of mind.  

During the most recent legislative session, the Georgia State Senate passed Senate Resolution 723 adopting a new Youth Athlete’s Safety Measures Model. This resolution encourages all institutions, organizations, and public recreation authorities that organize youth athletics to provide certain safety standards to protect the health and safety of our youth athletes through the employment of certain principles.

SR 723 calls for these ten safety provisions:

•To be coached by individuals who are well trained in sport-specific safety and to be monitored by athletic health care team members.

•To have quality, regular pre-participation examinations, and to participate under a comprehensive concussion management plan.

•To participate on safe, clean playing surfaces in both indoor and outdoor facilities.

•To utilize equipment and uniforms that are safe, fitted appropriately, and routinely maintained, and to have responders trained in proper removal of equipment in case of injury.

•To participate safely in all environmental conditions where play follows approved guidelines and medical policies and procedures, including but not limited to a hydration plan.

•To have 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.

•Privacy of health information and proper referral for medical, psychosocial, and nutritional counseling.

•To participate in a culture that finds “playing through pain” unacceptable unless there has been a medical assessment.

•Immediate, on-site injury assessments with decisions made by qualified sports medicine professionals.

•Athletes and parents should be provided the latest information about the benefits and potential risks of participation in competitive sports.

These safety measures give you a great check list to use to determine how your athletic association scores when it comes to safety standards. 

Now, I challenge you to take this one step further, and see how they rate in our Concussion Safety Standards Check.  Do they …

•Require annual concussion awareness and prevention training for all coaches?

•Offer concussion recognition education courses for parents and athletes?

•Provide information to parents at each season’s registration explaining the nature and risk of concussion and head injury to athletes? 

•Have written concussion management and return to play policies and procedures?

•Check for concussion signs and symptoms after an athlete experiences hard impacts?

•Immediately remove from play an athlete showing signs and symptoms of concussion? 

•Support removal from play and don’t rush the concussion healing process?

•Require written medical clearance and signed release from a healthcare provider before allowing a concussed athlete to return to any athletic activity? 

•Have a certified athletic trainer on the sidelines for practices and games?

•Have a certified athletic trainer and/or team doctor to guide athletes’ return to play?

The bottom line is, if your athletic association isn’t following these practices, you should be concerned for your child’s safety. It’s up to you to ask questions about safety policies and practices and hold your associations accountable before you complete your registration forms and stroke your checks. 

If your association needs guidance or resources, encourage them to reach out to me at paige@braininjurygeorgia.org and I’ll be excited to help lead them down a safer path.

www.gaconcussioncoalition.org

You can contact Paige Havens by email: Havensp@bellsouth.net or call 678-938-4279