Even though youth sports are a multi-billion-dollar industry, even eclipsing the National Football League, protections for high school athletes are being ignored and kids are dying as a result.
The Louisville Courier-Journal, part of the USA Today Network, did some significant reporting on the topic and found that most states and thousands of high schools don’t have “gold standard” policies in place to protect young athletes. What’s frustrating is that the cost of life-saving equipment, often used as a reason not to implement safeguards, is a tiny fraction of what schools spend on athletics.
Although many have introduced legislation at the state level to fix the problem, it has been routinely defeated or watered down and, according to the paper’s reporting, policies and laws that are in place have little enforcement and are often ignored.
Here’s a blurb from the package, which was entitled “Safer Sidelines.”
Sudden death in high school sports is not a rare occurrence.
It happens multiple times across the nation every year. And sudden cardiac arrest, the leading cause of death in high school athletes, happens once every three days during the school year.
This isn’t just a Kentucky problem or a Midwest problem. It’s not only a big-city problem or a small-town America problem. And it’s not just a football problem.
Athletes collapsing and dying is a national problem ― one that happens again and again, but rarely goes beyond a local news story.
Schools drill for fires and tornadoes because one day, they could happen.
In the last 10 years, seven students have died from a tornado on school property in the U.S.
In the last 10 years, no student has died from a fire at a school.
In the last 10 years, at least 200 students have died playing high school sports.
And that’s a conservative estimate.
While football and other cardio-intensive sports dominate the death rates, golf hasn’t been completely spared.
Tyler Erickson was a senior at Holmes County High School in Bonifay, Florida, and was practicing for an upcoming golf tournament when he was found dead on the course. He was just two days shy of his 18th birthday.
Tyler Erickson, 17 A senior at Holmes County High School in Florida was found lifeless on Monday at a golf course while practicing for an upcoming golf tournament, according to his family. Doctor believes he might have had a heart attack or blood clot and requested an autopsy pic.twitter.com/NmwxGgxKhy
— Lisa Marie (@Lisamarie1577) September 15, 2022
For those who have high school athletes in their families, the paper offered an important series of 10 questions that should be asked of the local school administrators. Among them:
Who determines what sports/events get covered by an athletic trainer and which don’t — and how is that determined?
Who is the point person for emergency situations on the field? In the weight room?
There are many dangers for high school golfers, but heat is often the one that is most prevalent. One part of the in-depth series highlights the four ways that 90% of deaths are caused: head, heart, heat and hemoglobin.
Expanded, those conditions look like catastrophic brain injuries (head), sudden cardiac arrest (heart), exertional heat stroke (heat) and exertional sickling (hemoglobin).