As student-athletes across New Jersey resume practice for fall sports this week, they can do so with confidence knowing the statewide athletic association of which their high schools are a member boasts the country’s most comprehensive health and safety policies.
The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association is the best in the nation in the area of managing injury risk to high school student-athletes, according to the Korey Stringer Institute’s second annual national ranking of statewide athletic associations.
Korey Stringer Institute researchers found many states are not fully implementing safety guidelines intended to protect student-athletes from heat stroke, sudden cardiac arrest and other potentially life-threatening conditions that may be prevented with proper policies. The institute, housed at the University of Connecticut, ranked states according to the extent to which they met a series of evidence-based best practice guidelines.
The NJSIAA, which has long been a leader in implementing and adopting safety protocols, improved its ranking from fourth to first out of 51 statewide athletic associations, according to the institute’s 2018 High School Sports Safety Policy Rankings.
New Jersey wrested the top spot from North Carolina, whose state university runs the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research. Last year, the Korey Stringer Institute determined the North Carolina High School Athletic Association had the most comprehensive health and safety polices in place for secondary school athletics.
Among the statewide athletic associations governing the nation’s 7.8 million student-athletes, North Carolina was ranked second this year, followed by Massachusetts (third), Kentucky (fourth) and Florida (fifth).
“We are very encouraged by the positive changes that have occurred across the nation,” said Douglas Casa, CEO of the Korey Stringer Institute and a professor of Kinesiology at the University of Connecticut who is one of the nation’s foremost authorities on the prevention of exertional heat stroke and other serious injury in sport. “However, we need to continue to be vigilant. We are fully committed to working with individual states on adopting these important guidelines.”