Training & Conditioning, 16.2, March 2006, http://www.momentummedia.com/articles/tc/tc1602/bulletinboard.htm
New Jersey to Test High School Athletes for Steroids
They aren’t the first state to consider it, but they are the first state to take the plunge. Next year, New Jersey will begin random steroid testing for high school athletes in all championship sports, following an executive mandate by Acting Governor Richard Codey.
The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) will oversee the testing, randomly selecting five percent of student-athletes whose teams qualify for postseason play. The governor’s office gave the NJSIAA a $50,000 grant to pay for the first year of testing, although there is no indication yet of how it will be paid for in subsequent years.
A basketball fanatic and AAU coach, Codey created a task force in July 2005 to study the issue of steroid use in young athletes, which ultimately recommended the testing, along with ramping up educational prevention efforts. “We looked at the statistics first,” says Bob Baly, Assistant Director of the NJSIAA and a member of the task force. “About three percent of high school seniors nationwide admit to having used steroids, and there’s evidence that the real number is closer to five or six percent. We have 240,000 athletes in New Jersey, so it’s not hard to do the math. A significant number of kids are taking a substance that is very dangerous.”
In addition, interviews with student-athletes convinced the group that steroids are very easy to come by. “They told us all you have to do is key in the right words on the Internet, or know the right people around school,” Baly says.
A private agency will carry out the testing, and athletic trainers at schools targeted for testing will not have any added responsibilities. “Our athletic trainers have done a very good job of becoming educated on the program, and we’re looking into ways to increase their education in this area,” Baly says.
New Jersey is not the only state to look into the issue of steroids in high school sports. Florida’s legislature recently considered a bill that would require the state association to develop a testing program for one sport, and a Michigan legislator introduced a bill last spring that would mandate testing of athletes at state competitions. In 2005, the governor of New Mexico urged his state’s legislature to institute random drug testing for high school athletes, and even pledged $330,000 to finance a program.
The full report of the New Jersey Governor’s Task Force on Steroid Use and Prevention can be seen at: www.nj.gov/steroids/finalreport.
First Standard for Soccer Headgear Released
Recent studies have shown that concussions can be a serious problem in soccer, occurring as frequently as in football. Now, for the first time, an official standard has been developed for protective headgear for the world’s most popular sport.
Issued in November 2005 by ASTM International, the standard offers a scientific consensus on the specifications headgear should meet in order to best protect soccer players from major impact during play. In particular, it establishes coverage, labeling, and laboratory-test performance protocols for manufacturers to follow. Soccer headgear that complies with the new standard will offer ideal protection during collisions with other players, goal posts, and the playing field. Impact from heading the ball is not addressed by the standard, since it rarely results in concussions.
Currently, the only soccer headgear on the market is called the Full90, a device made of molded foam that wraps around the head to protect impact zones of the forehead, temple areas, and the back of the head. “We’ve been waiting for this decision for a long time, and we’re proud to announce that our products meet every specification in the new standard,” Jeff Skeen, Founder and CEO of Full90 Sports, said in a press release. Skeen noted that a recent study, funded by world soccer governing body FIFA and published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, found that the Full90 reduces impact forces that can lead to concussions in soccer players.
While the new standard and existing research suggest that the headgear helps prevent injuries, the soccer community has been slow to adopt the equipment. The West Virginia Youth Soccer Association, for instance, prohibits players from wearing it unless they have a doctor’s note. To encourage more widespread acceptance, Full90 Sports recently sent information packets to high school and youth soccer programs throughout the country, introducing the product and explaining its benefits.
Predicting Disordered Eating Before It Occurs
With an estimated one to four percent of young women in the U.S. suffering from eating disorders and considering the high calorie demands of competitive athletes, early diagnosis of disordered eating in female student-athletes is critical. University of Missouri researcher Pamela Hinton, PhD, has found that a written questionnaire can help predict specific psychosocial risk factors associated with disordered eating habits.
An Assistant Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Missouri, Hinton designed the questionnaire with a colleague to measure five variables: drive for thinness and performance; social pressure on eating; performance perfectionism; social pressure on body shape; and team trust. For example, athletes who agree with statements like, “I often wish I were leaner so I could perform better,” and “I am trying to lose weight for my sport,” would earn a high score in drive for thinness and performance.
Hinton administered the test to 167 varsity female athletes from nine different sports at three NCAA Division I schools, hoping to find correlations between certain variables and the likelihood that an athlete would suffer from disordered eating. She found that two of the variables—drive for thinness and performance and social pressure on body shape—were the strongest predictors of disordered eating. Athletes with high scores in drive for thinness and performance were 10 times more likely than those with normal scores to experience disordered eating, while those who scored high in social pressure on body shape were five times more likely.
To read archived Training & Conditioning articles about counseling athletes with eating disorders, visit www.athleticsearch.com and type “eating disorders help” into the search window.
Salaries Grow for ATCs
The 2005 edition of the NATA’s Athletic Training Salary Survey contained good news for athletic trainers in all segments of the profession. The results, released in November during Allied Health Professionals Week, reveal that paychecks for athletic trainers have gone up considerably since last measured in 2003.
Compiling data from over 5,400 participants, the survey found that athletic trainers working in youth sports have experienced the greatest increase in salary—up 41.15 percent, to an average of $46,296. Those who work in professional sports also saw a large jump, 31.32 percent (to an average of $50,515). Those who work in high schools (up 15.91 percent, to $42,442), hospitals (up 14.92 percent, to $54,292), the performing arts (up 14.56 percent, to $56,135), and government settings (up 9.04 percent, to $50,716) also enjoyed increases.
Marjorie Albohm, MS, ATC, Vice President of the NATA Board of Directors, said in a press release that increased licensure requirements and regulations have led to greater acceptance of athletic trainers as qualified health care providers, a shift that is largely responsible for the higher salaries. “Many employers are now realizing the cost-effectiveness of having an athletic trainer on site to help prevent injuries and provide immediate treatment,” she said. “Their preventive care expertise makes them increasingly valuable in the American workplace.”