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What You Need To Know About Youth Sports Participation

A multi-ethnic group of elementary age children are playing a soccer game outside on a sunny day at the park.

The Lamber Goodnow team encourages you and your kids to be active, but also take the necessary steps to help avoid sports-related injuries

As the excitement, or perhaps dread, depending on the child, of a new school year approaches, both parents and children are faced with a list of back to school ‘to dos’.  If your child is one of the 38 million[1] children or adolescents that participate in organized sports, your list may be quite a bit longer to cover schools from possible liability connected to sports-related injuries.

Allowing and encouraging your children to participate in youth sports is a fantastic way for your children to develop lifelong skills.  Not only does it help children stay physically fit, it also can assist with their mental and social advancement. And in a era where female sports participation continues to increase at a rapid rate[2], the summer Olympics airing, and female role models such as the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, Serena Williams, and Simone Biles dominating the headlines, it is a perfect time to encourage children to get involved.  Additionally, children who are engaged in sports are less likely to drop out of school, become involved in alcohol or drugs, and are more likely to excel socially and academically.[3]

Other benefits include:

  • Weight Control
  • Physical Development
  • Character Building
  • Increased Self-Esteem
  • Developing Teamwork Skills
  • Creating Discipline
  • Providing Positive Guidance
  • Creating Healthy Competition[4]

Although sports participation promotes a myriad of social and physical benefits, it also has a downside: the risk of sports-related injuries. More than 2.6 million children ages 0 to 19 years old are treated in the emergency department each year for sports-related injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.[5]

The more common injuries include: growth plate injuries (broken bones), sprains and strains (torn tendons), heat related illnesses (heat stroke), and repetitive motion injuries (stress fractures).[6] In order for children to avoid these injuries parents should make sure to purchase proper gear, have their children participate in sports where coaches are present, learn the safety rules of their sport, always stretch and always have enough water, and parents should enroll their children in organized sports through schools and organizations that have certain safety protocols. Most schools in Arizona follow the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s (“AIA”) list of mandated protocols to shield them from potential liability related to student athlete injury. Therefore, if your child will be involved in a school sport this coming school year, be ready to include these 11 steps in your ‘to do’ list:

  1. Your child will need an annual pre-participation physical examination and evaluation.
    2. A health history form will need to be filled out about your child.
    3. Your child will need to present paperwork showing they are current with their immunizations.
    4. Parents will need to present paperwork showing proof of insurance.
    5. Parents will need to fill out a consent form for emergency care and insurance waiver.
    6. Students must complete an emergency card that includes: their name, phone number and address of parent/guardian that can be reached during school hours, family physician’s name and contact information and an order of action in case of an emergency.
    7. Injury informed consent paperwork (or video) that must be watched and signed by both the student athlete and their parent/guardian.
    8. The student and at least one parent/guardian must watch AIA’s video, ‘Sports Risk: You be the Judge,’ and sign a form saying that they understand the implications.
    9. The student athtlete must complete AIA’s Brainbook course before any type of sport participation.
    10. Tryout.
    11. If chosen, your children must be eligible. In order to be eligible your child must be: a certain age, present a birth certificate to the school, be enrolled in the school before a given time, enrolled in a certain number of classes, maintain a minimum grade point average, must have an amateur (no financial gain) status, and be a resident of the school zone.

Sports participation is a fantastic opportunity for children and adolescents alike, and can create unforgettable memories.  As parents, let’s make sure those memories are positive by taking all mandatory and suggested precautions against sports-related injuries.

 

[1]  National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, Parenting Musculoskeletal Sports Injuries in Youth: A Guide for Parents, (Jun. 2013), http://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/sports_injuries/child_sports_injuries.asp.

[2]  Children Trends Data Bank, Participation in School Athletics, (Oct. 2015), http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=participation-in-school-athletics.

[3]  Health Fitness Revolution, Top Ten Health Benefits of Youth Sports, (Jun. 3, 2015), http://www.healthfitnessrevolution.com/top-10-health-benefits-youth-sports/.

[4]  Id.

[5]  National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, Parenting Musculoskeletal Sports Injuries in Youth: A Guide for Parents, (Jun. 2013),

[6]  Id.

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