Why we must be active to promote the profession!

15 Mar

I recently read this online article from Anderson Valley, California.  The article starts out very strong in support of needed Athletic Training legislation in CA.  In 2010, a very good bill was passed all they way through the law making process only to be vetoed as it sat on Gov. Schwarzenegger’s desk.  Gov. Schwarzenegger didn’t see the need to protect the AT credential in the state.

On Thursday, March 3, Michigan resident Wes Leonard, 16, collapsed after a basketball game and later died. His death is one more in a long string of sports-related injuries nationwide.

“Over 300 children have died across the country,” stated Mike West, president of the California Athletic Trainers’ Association (CATA). “In the past three years, 36 children have died in California alone,” he added.

Despite those numbers, California does not require licensure of athletic trainers.

“We’re one of three states that has no state-defining scope of what it takes to be labeled an athletic trainer,” said West.

In other words, anyone can label himself or herself an athletic trainer without holding proper credentials. CATA believes this gives parents a false sense of safety while leaving young athletes at risk for injury … or worse.

This strong start to the article clearly indicates the need for ATs in the state and justifies having state laws to protect the profession and the public.

But, the author didn’t do enough homework and educate herself about the profession of athletic training.  She interviews a parent and the article gets very confusing:

“Many people assume that since a person is coaching a team, that they are qualified to do so,” said Cottonwood parent Tracye Dethero.

But that’s not always true.

In the meantime, parents would do well to take action into their own hands. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) posts prevention tips on their website. Parents are encouraged to have their children “gear up” and to “practice” and to “pay attention to temperature”, but nowhere does it state that parents should also check an athletic coach’s qualifications.

Says Dethero, “There have been sports teams where there is a question in my mind whether or not the coach had any idea what they were doing.”

Without a regulatory board, parents have no way of checking to see if that is true.

CATA acknowledges this problem, and so their legislation is designed to be cost-neutral. In other words, coaches would be required to pay for their own licenses.

This article intertwines very good quotes from athletic trainers, athletic directors and a parent who clearly know the role and education of the AT with an interview of a parent who thinks an AT is a coach.

I emailed the author, but I have not gotten a response.

Pamela,

I read your article on the need for athletic training licensure in CA. In the article, you state ““Many people assume that since a person is coaching a team, that they are qualified to do so,” said Cottonwood parent Tracye Dethero.” And “but nowhere does it state that parents should also check an athletic coach’s qualifications.” And “Says Dethero, “There have been sports teams where there is a question in my mind whether or not the coach had any idea what they were doing.” And “CATA acknowledges this problem, and so their legislation is designed to be cost-neutral. In other words, coaches would be required to pay for their own licenses.”

In reading what you quoted from your interview with Mike West, you clearly did a good job of outlining the need for Certified Athletic Trainers. You also did a great job of proving the need for athletic trainers in the high schools by refering to the unfortunate death of Wes Leonard in MI and the averted tragedy in CA by the quick thinking of a fellow ATC.

But, your interview with the parent, Tracey Dethero completely distorts our role as athletic trainers. Specifically, you quote Tracey several times as she confuses athletic trainers with coaches. There is a HUGE difference between athletic trainers and coaches. We all know what coaches are, but sadly many do not clearly understand the role of the athletic trainer.

An athletic training is a medical profession. The American Medical Association declared athletic training a medical profession in the 1970’s (if you want the document, I can provide it for you for a future story). Nationally, athletic trainers must graduate with a degree in athletic training from an approved athletic training program and also pass a very tough national certification exam. For more information on athletic training, visit nata.org.

March is National Athletic Training Month and your article clearly demonstrates the need to continue to educate the public in our role. We are often confused for other professions and we use this month as a means to educate the public as to our value to athletes and the physically active.

Athletic trainers can not take for granted that people know our role and education.  All of us must be active in educating the people we meet about our career when the circumstances demonstrate the need.

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