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The National Action Plan for Sports Safety has been created to bring to light the benefits and potential risks to student athletes while playing sports.
The United States promotes physical activity and fitness, and youth sports are an essential element in that effort. By all measures, it’s working. More children play sports than ever before, with an increase in the number of girls participating of particular note. It is recommended that children and adolescents spend approximately 60 minutes a day engaged in physical activities, most of which should be aerobic exercise. Physical inactivity increases risk for heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, high blood pressure and premature death. And, we know that habits formed in youth last a lifetime. But physical activity is not without risk. Brain injury, sudden cardiac arrest, exertional heat stroke, exertional sickling, cervical spine fractures and other injuries and illnesses are all serious and potentially life threatening. According to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, as many as 50 young athletes die each year, the majority from sudden cardiac arrest, and it’s not just about football. Risk is involved in almost every extra-curricular activity, such as cheerleading and marching band.
The inherent risk in sports may result in catastrophic or fatal injuries and illnesses. The majority of these occur in four major areas:
1. Cardiac Events
2. Neurologic Injuries
3. Environmental/Exertional Conditions
4. Dietary/Substance-Induced Conditions
Fortunately, risks and adverse outcomes can be minimized or eliminated when secondary school athletes have proper equipment, available health care professionals and a safe environment.
Here are some links to important youth safety websites: