Youth Sports Alliance: Time for High School Athletes' Bill of Rights

Youth Sports Alliance: Time for High School Athletes' Bill of Rights

On Wednesday, a coalition of groups representing student athletes urged each state to adopt a “Secondary School Student Athletes’ Bill of Rights” and presented the document with the proposed rules to lawmakers on Capitol Hill. 

The Youth Sports Safety Alliance, which is comprised of more than 100 groups, believes, “student athletes need access to health care professionals, better-trained coaches and up-to-date equipment.” 

The group also called for health providers, such as athletic trainers or doctors, to be ” available for every school,” “warnings about performance-enhancing substances for athletes,” and “the creation of a national registry to track student athlete deaths.”

As the Associated Press noted, the proposed rules would also “require schools to have clean and well maintained facilities, and require students to have a physical exam – including testing for concussions – before their season starts.”

The group noted that 8 million students participate in high school sports each year and “more students die during high school than in college or professional competitions.”

They suggested requiring “all schools regularly update their sports facilities and equipment and tell parents and students about the risks of playing sports” and coaches to know CPR and “have plans in case of an emergency and have regular reviews of how to handle injuries.”

Christopher Nowinski, the co-director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University’s School of Medicine, said, “We need to try harder to protect these student athletes.”

Nowinski played football at Harvard and was a WWE wrestler. After suffering concussions during his wrestling career, he decided to devote his life to studying brain injuries. 

“Think about this: You get an injury in the NFL, you have two guys at your side right away,” he told the Associated Press. “We do not provide a single professional medical person to half of high schools. … Every time we don’t have an athletic trainer, we’re leaving 80 percent of concussions on the field. The number one place where we’re failing them is we aren’t getting them off the field.”

President Barack Obama sparked discussions about player safety when he told the left-of-center New Republic magazine that if he had a son, he would “have to think long and hard before I let him play football.”

He also said college players, unlike NFL players who have unions and are grown men, “have nothing to fall back on,” and that was “something that I’d like to see the NCAA think about.”