Less Risk, More Reward: Emphasizing Safety and Encouraging Success is Theme of Eighth Youth Sports Safety Summit Hosted by NATA and Youth Sports Safety Alliance

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS, March 7, 2017 – In their ongoing commitment to sports safety for young athletes, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) and Youth Sports Safety Alliance (YSSA) hosted today the eighth annual Youth Sports Safety Summit at NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis. Speakers focused on this year’s theme: Less Risk, More Reward: Emphasizing Safety and Encouraging Success, with topics ranging from insurance risk in sport to same day return to play following concussion. Chris Herren, former NBA player with the Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets, discussed how he overcame substance abuse after struggling for the majority of his basketball career.


“This event continues to address vital issues with regard to youth sports safety and to provide essential guidelines to ensure the health and well-being of student athletes today,” said NATA President Scott Sailor, EdD, ATC. “It also provides a great opportunity for parent advocate groups among other in attendance to generate support, education and awareness. Our collective goal is to help reduce the risk of injury and provide a safe environment with best practices in place. We know parents are vital to our success.”


Key statistics:

  • There were at least 23 sports-related deaths of young athletes in 2016; 50 in 2015, 25 in 2014, 32 in 2013, 33 in 2012, 39 in 2011 and 40 in 2010.1
  • A total of 7.87 million student athletes participated in sports during the 2015-2016 academic year, an increase of over 60,000 from the previous year.2
  • In 2013, there were an estimated 1.35 million emergency room visits for injuries related to 14 commonly played sports in children ages 6-19.3
  • More than 30 million children ages 6-14 participated at least once in one or more of 120 reported activities during 2015.4


Expert Panel Discusses New “Inter-Association Task Force Document on Emergency Health and Safety: Best Practice Recommendations for Youth Sports Leagues” Released at Event


A new document,  The Inter-Association Task Force Document on Emergency Health and Safety: Best Practice Recommendations for Youth Sports Leagues  the first of its kind specific to youth sports, was released at the event and published online first today in the Journal of Athletic Training. These groundbreaking health and safety guidelines provide a roadmap for national governing bodies (NGBs) to ensure the best policies and procedures are in place to protect young athletes.


A speaker panel discussing the new guidelines was moderated by Will Carroll, formerly of Bleacher Report, ESPN and Baseball Prospectus and current contributor to All22.com. Experts sharing their insight included: NATA President Scott Sailor, EdD, ATC; Task Force Co-Chair Robert Huggins, PhD, ATC, vice president of Research, Athlete Performance and Safety, Korey Stringer Institute; John Jardine, MD, emergency room attending physician, Our Lady of Fatima Hospital, North Providence, Rhode Island; Ali Flury, sports safety program manager, Safe Kids Worldwide; and Mike Clayton, manager, National Coaches Education Program, USA Wrestling.


Third Annual Youth Sports Safety Ambassador Awards Presented


NATA also presented its third annual Youth Sports Safety Ambassador Awards, given to individuals and/or entities that have made a significant contribution to advancing athlete safety based on two criteria: providing exemplary youth sports safety protocols and care that set a precedent and/or model that others can follow; or, by advancing youth sports safety in one of the following areas: provision of appropriate medical care, research, policy change and/or resource allocation.


Recipients include:

Larry Roziers, assistant superintendent, Family and Community Engagement, Duval County Public Schools in Jacksonville, Florida, for championing the efforts to make safe sports programs a priority in his school district. Through data collected from a pilot program that introduced athletic trainers (ATs) to his district high schools, Roziers was able to influence community partners to create a program to place ATs in all 17 high schools by 2020. At that point, the district will cover 100 percent of the cost, currently funded in part by community partners.   


Pop Warner Little Scholars, for its continued commitment to youth athlete safety. It instituted the first national youth sports concussion policy requiring that an athlete removed from play with a suspected head injury cannot return to any Pop Warner activity until being evaluated and cleared by a licensed medical professional trained in concussion evaluation and management. Most recently, Pop Warner reduced all player contact to 25 percent of practice time and was the first national football organization at any level to eliminate kickoffs.


The daylong program included presentations on a wide range of sports health topics. NATA President Scott Sailor, EdD, ATC, and Brian Hainline, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer, NCAA, provided introductory remarks and welcomed all guests. Attendees included parent advocates, school administrators, educators, health care professionals and others. Ron Courson, ATC, PT, NREMT, senior associate athletic director - sports medicine, University of Georgia Athletic Association, addressed comprehensive health plans and emergency action plans; Mary N. Newman, president and co-founder, Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, focused on prevention and treatment of sudden cardiac arrest in young athletes; James Shipp, ATC, program manager, A-G Administrators, Inc., provided insight on insurance risks in sport; Shane Miller, MD, associate professor, Departments of Orthopedics and Pediatrics, Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, spoke on same day return to play after pediatric athletes sustain concussions; Holly Benjamin, MD, FACSM, professor of Pediatrics and Orthopaedic Surgery; director, Primary Care Sports Medicine, University of Chicago Medicine, discussed preventing pediatric overuse injuries; JoAnne Taylor Babbitt, co-founder, vice president and secretary, John Taylor Babbitt Foundation, provided a parent’s perspective on advocacy efforts and fundraising; and Michael Bergeron, PhD, FACSM, president and chief executive officer, Youth Sports of the Americas spoke on exertional heat illnesses.


The event concluded with a Call to Action:

  • Ensure that youth athletes have access to health care professionals who are qualified to make assessments and decisions.
  • Know the warning signs of cardiac stress.
  • Educate your family about the symptoms of musculoskeletal and neurological injuries (concussion, heat illness, ACL injuries).
  • Ensure pre-participation exams take place before play begins.
  • Ensure sports equipment and playing surfaces are checked for safety and best conditions.
  • Write and tweet your state and federal legislators, expressing your support for youth athlete safety legislation.
  • Support further research into youth sports injuries, mental health and their effects.


“Today, we reinforced our long-term and collaborative commitment to youth sports safety,” said Sailor. “We have made tremendous progress over the last eight years in terms of education, awareness and research. Each organization and participant here can help champion the recommendations and insights shared to ensure the right sports medicine teams are in place and best protocols are established to help prevent injuries and manage care. Together, we create a winning team and environment for safe play.”


Additional speaker information or interviews are available upon request.


1 National Athletic Trainers’ Association (unpublished media review).

2 National Federation of State High School Associations. 2014-2015 High School Athletics Participation Survey. http://www.nfhs.org.

3 Healy, M. 1.35 Million Youths a Year Have Serious Sports Injuries. (2013, August). Retrieved February 5, 2016 from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/08/06/injuries-athletes-k....

4 2016 Sports, fitness, and leisure activities topline participation report. Sports & Fitness Industry Association website. Fitness%2C-and-Leisure-Activities-Topline-Participation-Report. Accessed December 9, 2016.