Pascrell and Menendez reintroduce legislation to protect young athletes
Safety bill will protect students from concussions, heat-related illnesses and other medical emergencies
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) and U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) today reintroduced bicameral legislation to improve sports safety and protect student athletes from harm. cardiac arrests, concussions, heat-related illness and other medical emergencies on the field or in the field.
The Athlete, Family and Educator Support to Protect the Lives of Young Athletes Act, or SAFE GAMING Actis the most comprehensive federal legislation before Congress aimed at improving the safety of young athletes and focuses on various sports safety issues, such as heat exposure, EMS training, cardiac issues, concussion response brain damage and consumption of energy drinks.
“As our understanding of sports-related injuries improves, our response must also improve. Cardiac arrest, concussions and heat exhaustion are just three of the many threats facing on our young athletes. We all have a responsibility to protect and preserve their health, and we are proud to reintroduce this legislation today to protect student-athletes,” said Rep. Pascrell, co-chair and founder of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force. “The SAFE Play Act will help ensure coaches, trainers, parents and athletes have the resources they need to treat and prevent the various sports-related injuries they encounter. I want to thank Senator Menendez for leading the protection of our children and we will work together in the House and the Senate to ensure the passage of this important bill.
“Young athletes and their parents need to be assured that there are properly trained coaches, teachers, trainers and other staff on the sidelines who are ready and equipped to respond to an injury or health emergency. Our SAFE PLAY Act will protect our children and save lives by ensuring our schools have the resources and information they need to properly identify warning signs and respond to medical emergencies during a game,” said Senator Menendez. “Athletics is a key part of childhood and we want our kids to participate in sports, compete, play and have fun, but we also want them to be safe.”
SAFE PLAY Act builds on legislation from Senator Menendez and Rep. Pascrell introduced for the first time in response to a series of serious sports injuries and fatalities in New Jersey and across the country, and the language they had inserted into the Every Student Achievement Act of 2015 to enable federal funding to be used for help states and school districts develop and implement student-athlete safety plans.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 30 million children in the United States participate in organized sports, 12% of those under the age of 14 have been treated for a sports-related injury and 40% of those ages 5 to 14. were treated in hospitals for sports-related injuries. Tragically, young athletes have suffered fatal head injuries, avoidable strokes and cardiac arrests suffered during games.
The SAFE PLAY Act aims to prevent and improve the treatment of sports-related injuries and illnesses in young athletes, including sudden cardiac arrest, heat stroke and concussions by:
- Lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the CDC to develop and disseminate educational materials about high-risk heart disease to school administrators, coaches, school health professionals, educators, families, and students;
- Authorize grants to educational agencies and schools for the purchase of AEDs and the implementation of CPR and AED training courses;
- Require educational agencies to develop and implement concussion safety action plans;
- Direct the Secretary of Education, in consultation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and HHS, to develop and disseminate educational materials to school administrators, coaches, school health professionals, educators, families and students about the risks of excessive heat and safety recommendations;
- Lead the CDC and the U.S. Department of Education to develop guidelines for emergency action plans for youth athletics;
- Ask the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and the CDC to develop and disseminate guidelines on the safe consumption of energy drinks for young athletes;
- Lead the CDC to expand research on young athlete safety and report findings to Congress.
“The passage of the SAFE PLAY Act puts safety first, giving parents peace of mind that allows them more time to rejoice and less time to worry about their child’s health. Fans Coalition thanks Senator Menendez for his leadership and advocacy on behalf of young athletes,” said Earl Ash, deputy director of public policy for the Sports Fans Coalition.
“The number of deaths from cardiac arrest can be reduced if a life-threatening heart disease, such as cardiomyopathy, is detected early and treated appropriately. The SAFE PLAY Act addresses this issue and includes preventative measures to protect children at risk “, said Lisa Yue, Founder and Board Chair of the Children’s Cardiomyopathy Foundation. Proper diagnosis and treatment of cardiomyopathy in young people is a priority for Ms. Yue, who has lost two young children to the disease.. “I am grateful that congressional leaders like Senator Menendez are working to prevent unnecessary deaths among young athletes on the playing field.”
A comprehensive section-by-section summary of the bill can be viewed here.
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