Oklahoma children participating in youth sports are suffering injuries that could be prevented with more trainers and better-educated coaches, athletic experts said Tuesday at the Capitol Tuesday.
Rep. Dan Kirby, R-Tulsa, held an interim study that looked into sports-related injuries in Oklahoma youth programs.
Many who testified said thousands of injuries that sideline young players could have been prevented if caught earlier.
“I want my kid to at least have somebody that recognized, somebody that knows CPR, recognized if it's too hot, recognized if they are having cardiac arrest or a concussion,” said Kirby. “Even a minimal layer of education is better than nothing.”
Athletic trainers, professors and representatives of the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association all agreed there is a lack of education among coaches and staff on how to handle specific injuries and situations.
“First of all, what we want is education,” said Ed Sheakley, executive director of the OSSAA, which governs sports for most of Oklahoma's public schools.
Sheakley said the first step in preventing many injuries, and in some cases even deaths, is educating coaches.
“They're going to be the first responders probably nine times out of 10,” he said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children involved in youth sports are injured to the point of requiring a trip to the emergency room 1.35 million times annually, or roughly every 25 seconds.
Ron Walker, a clinical assistant professor at the University of Tulsa, said many of those visits can be prevented by hiring an athletic trainer. Walker said that nationally just shy of 70 percent of public schools have a trainer on staff. In Oklahoma it is less than 20 percent.