It’s nearly the fourth quarter. We are just completing year six of eight years in which we have been addressing four important health and safety issues that, for ease of conversation, we call the “Four H’s.” These are much more important than the X’s and O’s of sports.
During the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years, the first quarter, our focus was on Health Histories. During this time we made enhancements in the preparticipation physical examination form, stressing the student’s health history, which we believe was and is the essential first step to participant health and safety.
During the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years, the second quarter, our focus was on Heads. We were an early adopter – before state law mandates – of removal-from-play and return-to-play protocols, and our preseason rules/risk management meetings for coaches included information on concussion prevention, recognition and aftercare.
Without leaving that behind, during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years, the third quarter, our focus was on Heat – acclimatization. We adopted a policy to manage heat and humidity – it is recommended for regular season and it’s a requirement for MHSAA tournaments. The rules/risk management meetings for coaches during these years focused on heat and humidity management. At the mid-point of this two-year period, the MHSAA adopted policies to enhance acclimatization at early season football practices and to reduce head contact at practices all season long.
Without leaving any of the three previous health and safety “H’s” behind, during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years, the fourth quarter, our focus will be on Hearts – sudden cardiac arrest and sudden cardiac death. Coinciding with this emphasis is the requirement that all high school level, varsity level head coaches be CPR certified starting this fall. Our emphasis will be on AEDs and emergency action plans – having them and rehearsing them; and this summer we are expecting to deliver to every high school free of charge the “Anyone Can Save a Life” program developed in Minnesota and being distributed nationwide with the assistance of the National Federation of State High School Associations.