Potential issues come from lack of personnel

Nationwide, eight high school athletes have died this year.

Oklahoma ranks 49th when it comes to the safety of high school athletes because athletic training services in the state are not utilized properly, according to National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA), right in front of Alaska.

Certified Athletic Trainer Kevin Kinnaird is the current part-time athletic trainer for the high school. He has a day job as a physical therapist and also works in home health. Due to time constraints and Kinnaird’s contract, he does not attend every sporting event, but he does go to every football game, some basketball games and some wrestling matches.

Certified Athletic Trainer Randal Snider said the lack of trainers has a huge impact. Snider is a graduate of Duncan and Oklahoma State University. He is currently working as an athletic trainer for a private Christian school in San Antonio, Texas.

“Having athletic trainers is essential so you have the safety there,” he said. “Even if we’re not always needed.”

Smaller communities justify the lack of trainers by having coaches go through concussion analysis and first aid. However, Snider said there are a lot of problems not having a trainer on field.

“The coaches are not trained enough to properly diagnose a concussion. Typically, a coach’s anatomy background may not be adequate in letting them know where the major arteries and nerves in the shoulder run,” he said. “There are other orthopedic injuries that are just as serious.”

Athletic director Zack Hood said there is a constant worry about players in high impact sports, especially in Oklahoma.

“The numbers don’t lie. There’s not a lot of funds for us to have a full time trainer,” he said. “We’re in better shape than a lot of other places when it comes to that.”

Duncan athletics has access to immediate emergency assistance unlike other places, such as Marlow.

There are local doctors and surgeons who attend football games in the stands. Hood feels as though the district is fortunate to have them attending these games.

“I feel as though we are ahead of a lot of 5A schools across the state to have doctors that work at at Duncan Regional to be at our games,” Hood said.

The issue is simply the budget. The athletic director of a district is not in charge of what happens to the funds or how they are dispersed throughout the program.

“An athletic trainer starts at $40,000,” Hood said.

According to the Duncan Public School Certified Negotiated Agreement available on the DPS website, the budget allots $12,000 for having an athletic trainer.

A 2014 Huffington Post article states athletic directors sometimes feel that the coaches have enough training to take care of student athletes. However, coaches can have conflicts with pulling a player because of invested time in a game. Even in the National Football League there is fallout as to why some of the players are not pulled from a game after an obvious hit that caused a player to be dysfunctional. An example of this occurred in a press conference following Houston Texans and New York Jets’ football game.

The problem may not be fixed within the next few years and there’s no true way of avoiding a life threatening event.

“The best defense in avoiding catastrophic injury is having personnel on staff who are trained in how to deal with serious and potentially serious injury,” Snider said.

In 1996 a full time athletic trainer was at every football practice, according to Kinnaird. There were also student athletic trainers, who wre different from the managers because they knew first aid. Kinnaird feels as though this should be revived.

“If they got some kids interested in the field they could teach them how to tape and do first aid,” he said.

Understanding the circumstances, Kinnaird said Duncan will need to hire someone who can both teach and is a certified athletic trainer; however, it’s expensive.

“It all boils down to cost,” he said.

Hood, Kinnaird and Snider all agree that it would take a catastrophic event for the district to spend the money to have a full time athletic trainer.