May 6, 2022
As we get into the summer months, youth sports will take center stage, and a new program in Tennessee will ensure safety also shares the spotlight.
“I encourage parents to be aware of what’s called the Safe Stars program. Safe Stars is a program that we started here at Vanderbilt and with the Tennessee Department of Health. It’s a voluntary program up until a year ago, and the state legislature actually passed it into law,” said Director of Vanderbilt Youth Sports Health Center Dr. Alex Diamond.
It doesn’t go into effect until this upcoming school year, but the program that mandates certain safety requirements is expected to make a big impact.
“It’s the most comprehensive sports safety law in the country, and although, it will be mandatory for schools, I would encourage every parent or coach from a youth or ministry organization to look into the program and apply.”
It’s free and voluntary.
“Basically, what it does, is it takes the bare minimum of what we think should be a part of a safe sport program and makes that mandatory, and that’s what we call our bronze program.”
You can achieve more by earning an even better certification.
“There are additional qualifications and certifications that we think are important for safe sport that you can even reach the silver or gold level.”
The program isn’t just about limiting injury risk.
“There’s injury prevention things, but then it also goes into culture as well and having a code of conduct for parents, coaches and administrators. As we head into the summer, really the focus is on sportsmanship. Not only again with our kids, but mostly as adults as coaches, referees and officials.”
Bad sportsmanship and culture has produced a negative effect on the availability of officials.
“We have a huge crisis looming when it comes to youth sports. Over the past three years, we’ve had over about 50 thousand officials quit across the country. Without officials, we don’t have games. That’s something that concerns me again not only when it comes to having officials, but what we model for our kids.”