“More than 4 million youth athletes who want to gain a perceived advantage for college scholarships and potential to participate at elite levels such as professional sports, are increasingly turning to year-round, pay-to-play options, such as club sports,” said lead author of the study and Assistant Professor at San Diego State University, Eric G. Post, PhD, ATC. “With athletic participation of any kind, health and emergency readiness should be non-negotiable. While club sport coaches may seem ready to prepare athletes for the ‘big leagues’, they may not be prepared to properly handle an emergency and often don’t employ a medical professional such as an athletic trainer to ensure athlete safety.”
“Overall, high school sports are more typically aligned with the tenets of educational athletics, which aim to focus on holistic athletic growth over elite talent development,” said lead author Justin S. DiSanti, PhD. “Club sports, on the other hand, often involve a more commercial pay-to-play system, and these highly competitive levels may lead to a de-emphasis on the individual’s long-term holistic development and health in favor of the more immediate pursuit and achievement of elite sports status.”
For both studies, 769 coaches of high school teams and club teams with high school-aged athletes in three sports (basketball, soccer and volleyball) completed an anonymous electronic questionnaire regarding their emergency preparedness, awareness of medical coverage pertaining to their team and perceptions of youth sport specialization. Emails were distributed to high school coaches through the Michigan High School Athletic Association and to club coaches via email addresses gathered from club sport organizations in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.