As competition for athletic scholarships ratchets ever higher, an increasingly popular way for high school athletes to be seen by college scouts and coaches is by attending elite tournaments and so-called "showcases" where players from across the country gather to literally showcase their talents.
While convenient for college coaches, such large scale athletic events, which usually involve multiple games or matches in a condensed period of time, pose an increased risk of traumatic injury or illness to youth athletes. Parents need to know, as they watch their kids compete, that the event organizer is taking appropriate steps to prevent injuries, and that sufficient qualified medical personnel are at the event to provide first-aid in the event of minor injuries and transport more seriously injured athletes to the nearest hospital emergency room.
What should parents be looking for in a well-organized tournament or showcase?
It almost goes without saying that such large scale athletic events should be staffed by at least one certified athletic trainer (AT), who has concentrated training and expertise in sports injury prevention and treatment.
In addition, from my years serving as an AT for the NFL's scouting combine and various other large scale athletic events at the professional and college levels, I believe the following are essential at any tournament or showcase your child attends:
- An emergency action plan
- A list of phone numbers for all event staff
- Completed insurance forms and health questionnaire for every athlete;
- A current pre-participation physical evaluation for every athlete (If your child has a special medical condition (such as allergies, asthma, or sickle cell trait), parents should make sure to notify the tournament or showcase director, so the medical staff is prepared);
- A communication network (walkie-talkies or cell phones);
- Access to water/sports drinks to prevent dehydration or more serious forms of heat illness;
- Ice for injuries, and in a tub in case rapid cooling of an athlete with signs of heat stroke is needed;
- An automatic external defibrillator (AED) in the event an athlete, coach or fan experiences a cardiac emergency such as sudden cardiac arrest;
- Access to fields or venues for an ambulance, and a vehicle for athletic trainers (golf cart, gator, etc.) to transport injured athletes and supplies;
- Area of shade or an air-conditioned building for when heat and humidity are an issue;
- A building that is grounded, in the event of an electrical storm; and
- A well-signed, easy-to-locate medical first-aid station.
Posted June 12, 2011, most recently reviewed July 10, 2015