Study: Athletes not fully protected
NEW YORK — A study conducted by the Korey Stringer Institute shows that many individual states are not fully implementing key safety guidelines to protect high school athletes from potentially life-threatening conditions, including heat stroke.
More than 7.8 million high school students participate in sanctioned sports annually. KSI announced the results Tuesday at a news conference at NFL headquarters. The league partially sponsors the institute.
The state- by- state survey showed North Carolina with the most comprehensive health and safety policies at 79 percent, followed by Kentucky at 71 percent. At the bottom were Colorado (23 percent) and California (26 percent). Those scores were based on a state meeting best practice guidelines addressing the four major causes of sudden death for that age group: cardiac arrest, traumatic head injuries, exertional heat stroke and exertional sickling occurring in athletes with sickle cell trait.
“The bottom line is that many simple policy changes can have a massive impact when a life is saved,” said Dr. Douglas Casa of KSI. “That is the goal of KSI in releasing these rankings, to prevent needless deaths in high school sports. We have had countless conversations with loved ones who have lost a child/sibling/grandchild/athlete. If these rankings can get more kids home for dinner instead of to a hospital or morgue, then we have succeeded.”
The institute is a sports safety research and advocacy organization located at the University of Connecticut and named after the former Vikings star who died from exertional heat stroke in 2001.
Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death for the age range.
Casa noted that progress is slow because most states only make a change after a tragedy. But he stressed that the policies KSI promotes are not difficult to adopt.
“At least one state has adopted each individual item, and for many items, more than half of the states have the policy in place,” he said. “So this tells us it is feasible (to maximize protection). Now we need to collectively get states to learn from their colleagues and adapt these (programs) in their own state. Our top state is at about 80 percent, showing that, with effort, these policies can be implemented.”