A July 20, 2011, ToledoBlade article, Mason schools won’t hire athletic trainers - Board leaves door open to use private fund, written by Carl Ryan caught my eye. The article stated that school board members approved the idea of an athletic trainer (AT) at practices and games to tape athletes’ joints and attend to their injuries, but they balked at the $9,950 annual cost.
Mr. Drewyor said he checked with the other schools in the Lenawee County Athletic Association, which is Mason’s sports league, and learned all had ATs to whom they paid $6,500 to $12,000 each year out of their operating funds.
But board President Sandra Dobbs said the cost of an AT would be “a huge financial burden” for the strapped Mason district at a time when the state is cutting funding. Ms. Dobbs was joined by others. “I’m not opposed to sports having an athletic trainer,” explained board member Jacki Clark, “but I won’t approve another $10,000 for it.”
Not only are they completely devaluing the position, the school board seems ignorant of the role of athletic trainers as indicated by this quote:
Added Mike Ginther, another board member, “I’m all for having it, but we ought to be able to find someone in college to do it.”
What is particularly troubling about this line of thinking is that a school board wouldn’t think about putting a college student in a classroom without a supervising certified teacher. When the college student is placed in the classroom it is during the senior year or even a 5th year of college when most course work is already completed. But this school board, will put the health of their athletes in the hands of an unqualified, inexperienced person.
At least an AT was present to educate the school board:
Mason would have hired its athletic trainer through the University of Toledo Medical Center, the former Medical College of Ohio, which has contracts with 21 school systems to provide trainers for all sports, said Burton Rogers, a UTMC faculty member with a PhD in biomechanics and anatomy.
Mr. Rogers explained that athletic trainers must be licensed in Michigan and Ohio and are a valuable asset to any serious sports program. He told board members they were looking at the issue the wrong way. “I think you’re making an error by looking at this as an expenditure, not as an investment,” he said. And he nixed Mr. Ginther’s suggestion.
Interns or students studying to be athletic trainers “can’t be out there without the supervision of a licensed trainer,” said Mr. Rogers, a licensed athletic trainer. Similarly, Mr. Rogers said, coaches aren’t appropriate as athletic trainers: “At practice, you’re there to coach. You’re not there to evaluate an injury.” He said football players weren’t the only athletes who sustained injuries. “In high school, the second most concussed athlete is in girl’s soccer,” he explained.
Mr. Rogers did an outstanding job of promoting the profession and supporting the hiring of an athletic trainer by a school board. The current economy (2011) is forcing school boards to make very tough decisions and athletic trainers seem to be in the cross hair of the budget cut rifle. Many ATs will be forced to defend their position to a school board who may see them as a luxury and not a necessity. But an Oregon Live article, The Bachscore: High schools partner with hospitals and clinics for athletic trainers, written by Rachel Bachman reports a similar scenario concludes with this:
Despite the apparent increase in access to athletic trainers, only about 28 percent of high schools at all levels in Oregon have access to one, Wood said. Most schools without athletic trainers are in inner-city or rural areas, and even a patchwork plan is better than nothing.
“These clinical outreach programs, they’re a start,” Robinson said. “If you’re going to have an athletic program in a high school, you better have an athletic trainer. It’s not the luxury that people used to think it was. It should be a priority.”
Well said Mr. Robison! My fellow ATs, this is why we must collectively work to educate the public about our education, our qualifications and our role in healthcare. Each of us must work on the grass roots level to educate our own administration, coaches and parents as Mr. Rogers and Mr. Robison did so adequately. We must collectively work to enhance our efforts of educating the general public.
Written by: Paul LaDuke, MSS, ATC, CSCS