While the new regulations would require youth leagues to require a doctor and an athletic trainer on the sidelines for every game, youth football directors say the extra expenses could prove to have a devastating effect on the game.
“It’s a great idea, but who’s going to pay for the doctor?” asked Forest Hills Football League president Neil O’Donnnell.
O’Donnell explained that while the leagues are non-profit and coaches often volunteer their time, tightly strapped budgets would not allow his league any wiggle room for a doctor or trainer.
“We struggle to stay alive,” O’Donnell said. “Just to equip the kids, pay the referee fees, it’s a lot of money.”
He added that coaches and parents already pay close attention to on-field injuries.
“If we think a kid has a concussion, we immediately remove him to the hospital,” he said. “We treat a head injury very seriously.”
Levin said that while coaches are there to build teamwork, sportsmanship and character of the youth, their physical health should be left to the professionals.
“This legislation will take the health and well-being of our children out of the hands of coaches and into those of medical professionals,” Levin said. “For the love of the game, we must act now to protect our children and make youth football safer.”
According to a 2013 report from the Institure of Medicine and National Research Council, high school football players are twice as likely to suffer brain injuries than college players.
Putting a doctor on the sidelines could cost, on average, an estimated $100 per game, according to a representative at Levin’s office, who also suggests would not be too costly if divided by each player on the field.
“Throughout the United States, the trend over the past 20 years has been to give youth sports programs knowledgeable professionals to evaluate and care for potential traumatic brain injury and catastrophic injuries,” said Jim Gosett, the head athletic trainer at Columbia University.
In addition to requiring a doctor on the field for every game, they will also be required for all practices played on city property operated by either the Department of Education (DOE) or Parks Department.
Doctors would also be required to submit a Standardized Assessment of Concussion for any incident on the field, and all leagues must submit a full report of concussions to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene or DOE throughout the season.
Deanna M. Errico, president of the NYS Athletic Trainers Association, said they are in full support of the proposed bill.
“Youth sports do not come without risks and the safety of young kids relies on providing the appropriate medical coverage with preventative care, on-field care, and rehabilitation, as well as concussion recognition and management that will come with providing athletic trainers and physicians on the sidelines,” Errico said in a press release. “We would be happy to see this plan passed in New York City and spread across the state to provide safer environments for all sports."