Athletic coaches push state to improve student-athlete safety

Only 37% of middle and high schools have a full-time sports coach on staff.

BUFFALO, NY – Sports are fun to watch and fun to play, but there’s a lot at stake for athletes when it comes to their health.

For years, New York state athletic trainers have been pushing for lawmakers to update the current bill that controls what they can do. As written, the 1992 bill does not reflect the changing abilities, capabilities or training of today’s trainers.

Ryan Krzyanowicz is the director of the athletic training program at the University at Buffalo. He says it’s time for the state to intervene. The reality is that there simply aren’t enough athletic trainers at the high school level.

“We’ve been working on this permit bill for some time,” Krzyanowicz said. “We have brand new accreditation standards which state that all athletic training degrees must be at the master’s level.”

New York’s current bill does not reflect this. In fact, New York is one of only four states that does not require athletic trainers to be licensed.

Krzyanowicz thinks that should change.

“We’re really raising the level of education of what sports coaches are and what they can do. That should be reflected in our bill for the state,” Krzyanowicz said. “We really are the best people to assess them after an injury. But we can also help prevent injury.”

According to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, one-third of high school athletes compete without the assistance of an athletic trainer.

“Every high school should have an athletic trainer because what happens when they don’t and a student athlete gets injured? Who evaluates them? Is it that mom from the stands? Well, that might be a liability issue?? Same thing, it could be a liability issue,” Krzyanowicz continues.

The fact is, the pandemic has derailed their efforts. But as cases drop, the hope is that efforts will regain momentum.