There is a battle brewing at Laguna Beach High School in California. It involves protecting the safety of kids during sports, so you know which side I fall on. This is no different than hundreds of stories from across the country that that I get sent each month, but this caught my attention because it talked about a Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) infection which is a potentially fatal bacterium that too few sports parents know much about.
Denise De La Torre, the mother of a high school football player who has been very ill with a MRSA infection, has been lobbying for a better safety protocol for the sports program. According to an article in the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot, De La Torre is pushing for training and conditioning to prevent injuries that are more prevalent with turf fields, a full-time athletic trainer to properly assess injuries, as opposed to a volunteer orthopedic surgeon who isn't able to attend all of the games, thorough cleaning and maintenance of the potentially bacteria-ridden field, and a better chain of communication so that when injuries occur, players are immediately sent for medical attention so injuries don't have time to progress (in other words, an emergency medical plan).
She deserves to be applauded and fully supported by all parents, coaches and school officials for doing her job: protecting her child. Like most mothers, Ms. De La Torre, is working hard to protect all the children, not just her won. BRAVO. This is a brave act on her part but something that mothers since the dawn of day have been "programmed" to do. Mothers are natural guardians of children at play.
So, where is the problem? Ms. De La Torre is not getting full support, especially from all parents. Why? Parents are frustrated because they are routinely told that physical, emotional and even sexual injuries are the price their children have to pay to be able to play sports, and if they complain, Like Ms. De La Torre, they will be dismissed as representing a small minority when in fact they represent a silent majority.
As a youth sports expert, I have the opportunity to connect and work with families of catastrophically injured children (all too often) who have been hurt while playing sports. For parents who are afraid to go public with concerns about program safety, know that you are not alone. However, there are things you can do to help make certain your school is protecting all the kids. MomsTeam has comprehensive information to help even the most private of people and even if all you do is make copies of our articles and distribute them, you will be helping to bring with awareness to the problems AND the solutions.
For instance, to help middle and high schools and private- and community-based youth sports organizations (YSOs) provide appropriate medical care to secondary-school-aged adolescents in sports, the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) issued a Summary Statement a while back calling for schools and YSOs to establish, in consultation with administrators, coaches, parents and athletes, athletic health care teams (AHCTs) to address the issue of athletic injuries in a comprehensive way. The Summary Statement, published in the August 2008 issue of The Journal of Athletic Training, contains 11 consensus recommendations.
I wonder how many of the eleven have been implemented at Laguna Beach High. How many is your child's high school following? If it is falling short on sports safety, perhaps it's time for you to speak up, like Donna De La Torre. It's always the right time to speak in favor of better safety in sports.
Have a story to share? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org