The National Football League Foundation and NFL teams will fund athletic trainers in underserved high schools nationwide. The announcement was made as part of a White House summit on youth sports safety.
The $1 million program, a collaboration with the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) and the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society (PFATS), is part of $25 million committed by the NFL Foundation over the next three years toward health and safety projects. These projects are in addition to the $45 million the NFL recently announced in support of USA Football and the Heads Up Football program. Other health and safety initiatives include:
- The Back to Sports program -- a collaboration between the NFL, National PTA and American Heart Association/American Stroke Association to host wellness events in NFL markets that educate parents on the rewards of sports participation and provide information on concussion signs and symptoms, hydration and NFL PLAY 60.
- Field grants to provide new and refurbished places for kids to play safely
"The NFL Foundation is proud to support the important work that will help keep athletes of all levels safer as they play the sports they love," said Dallas Cowboys Executive Vice President Charlotte Jones Anderson and chair of the NFL Foundation. "We are pleased to work with a diverse group of leaders in their respective fields to help advance the important cause of sports safety."
The athletic trainer outreach program, which was implemented by the Chicago Bears during the 2013 season, will provide certified athletic trainers (ATs) in NFL communities where they are sorely needed. NFL teams will identify schools in their region that are eligible. According to NATA, only 55 percent of high school student athletes nationwide have access to a full-time certified AT. Access to ATs is particularly challenging in low-income and rural communities.
Athletic trainers play an important role in keeping young athletes safe. A recent study from the American Academy of Pediatrics showed that the presence of athletic trainers can have a significant positive impact on student-athlete health, resulting in lower injury rates, improved diagnosis and return-to-play decisions for concussion and other injuries, and fewer recurrent injuries.
The White House Healthy Kids & Safe Sports Concussion Summit convened sports leagues, military service members, experts, and other stakeholders to raise awareness about the prevention and treatment of concussions in youth sports.
The funding announced today is in addition to $30 million from NFL owners committed to the National Institutes of Health for medical research and the $60 million NFL partnership with GE and Under Armour to advance the science related to the diagnosis and treatment of head injuries. In addition, the NFL was a driving force behind the passage of legislation in all 50 states that requires student-athletes to be cleared by medical professionals before returning to play after a concussion.
-- NFL Communications