Tuesday, February 10, 2015

DALLAS, TEXAS, February 10, 2015 – The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) announces the introduction of the Supporting Athletes, Families and Educators to Protect the Lives of Athletic Youth (SAFE PLAY) Act on February 10, 2015.

More than 7 million high school students participate in athletics each year, and more than 30 million children participate in organized sports across the country. The families of these athletes have seen an increase in sports related illnesses such as sudden cardiac arrest – the top cause of death among youth, concussions, and heat stroke. The SAFE PLAY Act seeks to address these concerns through best practices, support for schools and quality research.

Introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and in the U.S. House by Rep. Lois Capps (CA-24) and Rep. Bill Pascrell (NJ-09), SAFE PLAY also recommends a multidisciplinary approach to research and federal support to ensure student athletes’ safety in schools. NATA had an integral role in the introduction of this comprehensive legislation and worked with these congressional offices in the development of the bill.

This legislation specifically helps school districts develop and implement concussion safety and management teams and plans and encourages increased surveillance efforts for life-threatening cardiac conditions in children. The bill also directs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to recommend guidelines for the development of emergency action plans; create and distribute information on health risks linked to excessive heat and humidity; and develop information and guidelines on energy drink consumption.

“The National Athletic Trainers’ Association is proud to have worked with Sen. Menendez, Rep. Capps and Rep. Pascrell in the introduction of the SAFE PLAY Act,” said NATA President Jim Thornton. “As the leading national organization representing athletic trainers and health professionals that are responsible for the prevention and treatment of injuries to athletes at all levels of sport and play, we applaud these members of Congress for their leadership on the introduction of this comprehensive legislation to protect youth athletes. We look forward to working with other members of Congress to build support for this important bill.”

“All of the elements are critical for the health and welfare of our student athletes including the vital role the athletic trainer and other members of a school or program’s sports medicine team have on the playing field,” adds Thornton. “Encourage your U.S. congressional representatives to support this legislation. Bring this to the attention of school administrators, parent advocates, coaches, health care professionals and others. What is more important than keeping our kids safe on the playing field so they can do what they do best and excel at their chosen sport or physical activity?”

To further the efforts in the area of youth sports safety, in 2013 NATA created a Safe Sport School Award to recognize schools with select sports safety protocols in place that ensure the health and welfare of their student athletes. To date, 332 schools have received this distinction.

For more information on the SAFE PLAY Act, please visit