Thursday, April 17, 2014

Gazette Letter: Schools need to pay for athletic trainers

Sports safety experts say that if you can’t afford athletic trainers, you can’t afford to run a high school athletics program. We should not forget the death five years ago of Edwin “Dek” Miller from heat stroke during football practice at Northwest High School. Had an athletic trainer been present that day, Dek Miller might still be with us.
Surrounding school systems have found a way to fund athletic trainers in their budgets.
The Gazette reports that MCPS adopted a pilot program this year under which 11 of its 25 high schools are staffed with part-time athletic trainers [“Athletic trainers on the sidelines on Montgomery County,” March 12].
While the pilot program is a start, keep in mind that the athletic trainers’ services were donated by Medstar and other local health care providers, not funded through MCPS’s operating budget.
These health care providers are not charities, and if marketing and branding benefits do not materialize, they may discontinue their donations.
Having athletic trainers by donation at some high schools is better than no athletic trainers at all. But long term, Superintendent Joshua Starr and the school board need to make a grown-up decision to fund athletic trainers in the budget, rather than getting by on the kindness of strangers. After all, their primary mission is student safety. 
Tom Hearn, Bethesda

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