As readers of this space well know, MomsTEAM and I have long advocated that the best way to help keep our kids playing interscholastic sports is for schools to hire certified athletic trainers (ATs).
Years before sport concussions took over as the predominant youth sports safety issue of the 21st centry, we were highlighting the critical and unique role that ATs play in recognizing, evaluating and managing concussions.
In December 2011, as part of our ongoing effort to increase the number of ATs at the nation's high schools, we posted a powerful video of experts speaking to MomsTEAM at a youth sports safety summit early that month in Washington, D.C. hosted by the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) about the importance of ATs in youth sports safety.
Since we posted the video on MomsTEAM, our e-mail in-box has been flooded, not only with praise for the video but requests for permission to use it from athletic trainers' associations (eight state associations so far have asked to be allowed to run the video on school websites throughout their states) and other youth sports safety advocacy groups all across the country, all of which requests we were only too happy to grant.
Now, it appears that our message is being heard!
Today, I received in my in-box a press release from the Pennsylvania Athletic Trainers' Society (PATS) citing MomsTEAM for having "long advocated that parents have the right to have a certified athletic trainer (ATC) on staff of their child's team," and the role MomsTEAM played in the passage of a law officially recognizing athletic trainers as licensed health care professionals in the Commonwealth and in helping to increase - despite challenging economic times - the percentage of schools in the state with access to ATs from 81% in the 2010-2011 academic year to 86% in the 2011-2012 year (both figures, by the way, well above the national average of 42%, according to the most recent statistics from the NATA).
It is, of course, extremely gratifying, personally and professionally, for MomsTEAM to be recognized by PATS in this way, but it also makes me more determined than ever to work with national organizations such as the NATA, state organizations such as PATS, and groups and parents at the grass-roots level to redouble our efforts to see that the rest of the country follows Pennsylvania's lead. I won't be satisfied until every single high school in the country has an AT.
To those who say that their school can't afford to hire an AT, I will repeat what I always say: nothing - and I mean nothing, not winning, not school pride, not a 15,000 seat lighted stadium with artificial turf, nothing - is more important in youth sports than keeping our kids safe.
We owe our children nothing less.