Youth sports safety advocates presented Congress with a Student Athletes' Bill of Rights on Wednesday. It's designed to make school sports safer across the country. The bill calls on coaching staffs to be trained for medical emergencies and players to be informed of the potential risks.
Many South Dakota schools already have such plans in place. But the Bill of Rights also calls for more professional medical oversight. And that's something smaller districts say they just can't afford.
According to the Youth Sports Safety Alliance, 8,000 children across America are treated in emergency rooms each day for sports-related injuries. Lennox senior Zach Koosman suffered a concussion playing football last fall.
"I was running toward the sidelines and I guess the kid put his shoulder down or something, or helmet to helmet and blacked out, I think for a second," Koosman said.
Schools like the Lennox district say they have staff in place to properly treat players who get hurt.
"We have an athletic trainer that comes to practices and games. And the coaches have the proper training that they need," Lennox School Superintendent Bob Mayer said.
But the Youth Sports Safety Alliance wants all schools to have an entire team of medical experts available to students, including a doctor. The Lennox superintendent thinks that's a good idea in theory, but many smaller schools can't afford that kind of extensive medical care.
"Student safety is a major issue and we take it very seriously. But there are limits to what you can do and what you can afford to do, or even need to do," Mayer said.
South Dakota student athletes are more aware about the risks of concussion. But they say a bill of rights on their behalf is not a sure-fire guarantee to protect them on the field of play.
"When you go out there, you don't worry about when you're going to get hurt because when you start worrying about when you get hurt or not, you're going to get hurt," Lennox senior Joe Hendrickson said.
To some school districts, a nationwide bill of rights is a one-size fits all approach to addressing injuries that might not fit the bill in the long run.
Mayer thinks the student-athletes' bill of right has many good points including requiring schools to make regular inspections to ensure that their sports facilities are safe places to play and practice.
To read the Youth Sports Safety Alliance's National Action Plan, click here.