On the surface, this is a ridiculous question. Of course safety concerns are of paramount importance to a couch – or so it would seem. The reality is that the desire to win and the emotions of the game can sometimes cause a coach to use his or her players in ways that are not in the best interest of the player’s health.
Injuries are a part of every sport our children play. We hand our sons and daughters over to coaches that we assume are properly trained, certified and have our youth athlete’s best interest at heart. But what happens when one of those 3 pieces don’t fall into place? When the training is subpar, when certification is not taken seriously or worst of all when the coach makes decisions without the best interest of one of their player’s health and safety at the forefront.
Fortunately, these events are rare. A health and safety protocol has been developed and published by the NCAA and this protocol is traditionally followed to the “letter of the law” at the youth and high school levels. It not only includes the rules and regulations for safe play, but also outlines a return to play protocol for injured players.
If you feel that your son or daughter has been placed in an unsafe athletic environment there are 5 steps you need to take as a parent.
Ensure The Immediate Safety Of Your Athlete
Your immediate concern should obviously be to ensure that your child is safe and healthy. If needed, remove your athlete from the situation and seek medical assistance immediately. Any push-back from the coaching staff, training staff or athletic director is secondary at this stage and should not impede your parental instinct to seek qualified care for your athlete.
After the situation has stabilized, document everything you can remember about what happened. Speak to your athlete and their teammates. Write it all down. Leave nothing to memory!
In whatever the scenario, there are always non-involved third parties that can listen to you present your case. Whether this is the principle of your child’s school or someone on the administrative board of the youth sports league, you don’t have to go face to face with an angry or aggressive coach. It’s best to approach the setting with a calm head and stick to the facts. Any emotional back and forth will only serve to muddy the waters and is unlikely to produce any solution. The last thing you want to do is turn this into a he said, she said conversation.
Now that you have presented your case, give them the floor. Be respectful of what the coaches or administrators have to say. If you are in search of a resolution, there has to be a two-way conversation. In the best case, your concerns will be heard and addressed in a professional fashion. If this doesn’t happen and you feel that your concerns are being minimized, move on to the next step.
Escalate (if needed)
With experienced coaches, it rarely gets to this point. Coaches that have been in the business for years are most always cognizant of their players status and defer to the athletic trainer and team physician for advice or clearance to play. However, if you find yourself staring down an inexperienced or rogue coach, the only option left is to escalate your concerns to a higher power. Whether this is a school administrator or someone on the youth league board, you have an obligation to your child and their teammates to follow-through with your concerns.