Thu. 10:08am: Youth group: Students need better sports safety

WASHINGTON (AP) – Student athletes need access to health care professionals, better-trained coaches and up-to-date equipment, a coalition of groups recommended Wednesday in a call to action aimed at protecting the almost 8 million students participating in high school sports each year.

The Youth Sports Safety Alliance of more than 100 organizations released the proposed rules, which call for health providers such as athletic trainers or doctors available for every school, warnings about performance-enhancing substances for athletes and the creation of a national registry to track student athlete deaths. The rules also would require schools to have clean and well-maintained facilities, and require students to have a pre-season physical exam, including testing for some of the 400,000 concussions students suffer annually.

Many of the proposed requirements are already standard practice, state athletic officials said. The biggest hurdle, however, is medical care.

Only 42 percent of high schools have access to an athletic trainer and 47 percent of schools even come up short on the federally recommended nurse-to-student ratio.

In Ohio, students already are meeting many of the requirements, said Deborah Moore, associate commissioner of the Ohio High School Athletic Association.

“It’s not a requirement but most high schools have access to athletic training services,” she said, noting the larger schools have athletic trainers on staff and smaller ones have contracts with local hospitals or rehabilitation facilities.