MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — Player safety in football continues to be a priority at all levels as injury treatment and training methods improve.
We spoke with the Mankato East football team that, like many of our area programs, keeps athletes health at the center of attention.
The Cougars are just one of 22 high schools and four universities in the state taking part in the ‘Safety in Football Campaign’ being put on by the Great Lakes Athletic Trainers Association.
The whole goal of the campaign is to recognize all the work being done to make the great game of football safer.
“We feel the game is as safe as it’s ever been," Mankato East Head Coach Eric Davis said. "We know it’s not risk free, but at the same time, I’m proud of our profession, and how we’ve made some changes that’s going to keep the game going long term.”
Mankato East players are wearing custom stickers on their helmets to show the efforts being made, as well as raising awareness on the role athletic trainers play on the sidelines.
“Sixty-two percent of the injuries occur during practice, and only 37 percent of high schools across the United States have an athletic trainer that is there on a daily basis," Mankato East Athletic Trainer Amy Bond said. "By having an athletic trainer there on a daily basis, you can see those acute injuries as well as maybe an emergency that happens to and then they’re able to get care right away.”
“We have full confidence in them, we know that we can send any player to them and that they’re going to get the treatment and any precautionary things that they need done," Davis added. "If they’re not supposed to be playing, they don’t need to be and we leave that to the athletic trainers’ hands.”
And there is still a healthy amount of athletes playing football in Mankato.
“The numbers in the high school football programs are pretty darn good," Davis continued. "I think that speaks well to our youth programs as well as the high school coaches on both sides of town making sure the game is practiced the right way, and making sure the kids have a good experience.”
“The orthopedic and fracture clinic provides athletic trainers on Saturday mornings for youth football games," Bond added. "Even having that is important. The parents are starting to see the athletic trainers when their sons and daughters are playing and getting to know more of the role of the athletic trainer.”
The ‘Safety in Football Campaign’ runs through Sunday.