UConn Study Ranks U.S. States by High School Sports Safety Policies

Each state received points if their high school sports safety policies were mandated; states received no points if policies were simply recommended.

UConn Study Ranks U.S. States by High School Sports Safety Policies

North Carolina ranked first on the list while Colorado ranked last.

A recent study conducted by the Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut ranked each U.S. state by the effectiveness of its high school sports safety policies.

According to the Journal of Athletic Training, secondary school athletic programs lead the nation in athletic-related deaths such as sudden cardiac arrest, traumatic head injuries, exertional heat stroke, and exertional sickling.

The university used evidence-based best practices to measure the effectiveness of each state’s overall safety policies for athletes.

These best practices are supported by the American College of Sports Medicine, American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, and the American Osteopathic Academy of Sports Medicine.

The best practices were determined by the Inter-association Task Force for Preventing Sudden Death in Secondary School Athletics and were published in the Journal of Athletic Training in 2013.

High School Sports Injury Statistics

According to the study, from 1982 to 2015, there were 735 fatalities connected to school athletic events. Of those 735 fatalities, 185 were from direct causes such as athlete-to-athlete or athlete-to-object contact, and 550 were from indirect causes such as cardiac arrest, asthma, or heat stroke.

During that same time frame, there were 626 catastrophic injuries – 613 from direct causes and 13 from indirect causes.

Specifics of the Survey

A rubric was used to assess and score each state’s policies based on five equally weighted factors: sudden cardiac arrest, traumatic head injuries, exertional heat stroke, appropriate medical coverage, and emergency preparedness.

Prior to the assessment, researchers collected information on health and safety policies surrounding catastrophic sports injuries from each state’s public high school athletic association, enacted legislation, and Department of Education that were in place for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Each state received points if their policies were required to be followed by the state high school athletic associations. States that only recommended or encouraged the policies received no points.

The tallied score was based on the number of safety policies put into place and how comprehensive they were. Each score was then converted to a percentage.

North Carolina ranked first on the list with a score of 78.75%. Colorado ranked last with a score of 23%. The median score was 47.1%.

Once the study was completed, each state’s high school athletics association executive director was made aware of the results.

The study was also distributed to attendees at the 2017 Collaborative Solutions for Safety in Sports Meeting which was held in Kansas City, Missouri on March 28 and 29.

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About the Author

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Amy is Campus Safety’s Executive Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy has many close relatives and friends who are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

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