Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

NFL Contributes To HS Player Safety

With the continued advancement of coaching, nutrition and overall data in sports the natural progression is to keep up with those advancements with better player care. That’s the goal of Project 17, a public initiative that is dedicated to place full-time certified athletic trainers at all 17 high schools in Duval Country by 2020.

Five high schools, Jackson, Raines, Baldwin, Englewood and Ribault benefitted from the program last year and two more, Parker and Westside will have trainers thanks to Project 17 in the 2016-2017 school year.

“Certified athletic trainers are no longer a luxury; they are a necessity, especially in youth sports,” says Robert Sefcik, executive director of the JSMP. “Heat stroke, cardiac arrest, concussion and complications of sickle cell trait are real dangers in sports. Many sports injuries are preventable, so that is JSMP’s primary goal; however, when injuries do occur, being able to recognize and immediately respond to them is critical. That’s what certified athletic trainers do.”

Certified athletic trainers are licensed health care providers who collaborate with physicians and act as a first line of defense for high school student-athletes. Without certified athletic trainers, injuries may be overlooked or treated inadequately. Project 17 aims to reduce the incidence of sports-related injuries and endorse best practice standards and appropriate care for injuries as they occur.

Last year the Jaguars foundation donated $50,000 to the project and the NFL matched that this year. League Commissioner Roger Goodell was in town to receive the inaugural Leadership in Sports Health, Safety and Research Award on behalf of the league.

At a question and answer session, Goodell revealed he had a concussion playing baseball in high school and his twin daughters rely on their school’s athletic trainers to help get them through the season.

Goodell said of the Project 17 initiative, “It is exciting to see the collaborative approach the Jacksonville community is taking to enhance safety in high school sports by adding comprehensive athletic training programs with the support of the Jaguars and the NFL. Through Project 17, the Jacksonville Sports Medicine Program has crafted a proactive, evidence-based approach to getting student-athletes the medical supervision they need and deserve, which can serve as a model for other communities in the U.S.”