[OPINION] I Support The Scholastic Student-Athlete Safety Act

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Ronald Rios

Ronald Rios

by Middlesex County Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios

There are few things as heartwarming as seeing children having fun. I have a few grandchildren of my own, and they always make me smile whenever I see them. As the Freeholder Director, I dedicate myself to making Middlesex County a great place for them and for all our young residents to live, play and grow.

That’s why I enthusiastically support legislation that would help ensure the health of student athletes in New Jersey. State Assembly Bill A-3048 would require medical exams for all students in grades six through 12 who want to play school-sponsored sports. My fellow Freeholders and I approved a resolution in support of this very important legislation.

The physical activity, sportsmanship and teamwork that make up the sports tradition can be very beneficial for our children. However, the opposite can be true if that child has a medical condition that puts them at unreasonable risk when participating in athletic activities.
Current State Board of Education regulations require school districts to ensure that students in grades six to 12 have a medical examination prior to participation in school-sponsored athletics, with the findings of the examination documented on a form approved by the Commissioner of Education, not a medical professional.

The proposed bill would require every school to use a “Preparticipation Physical Evaluation” form developed by the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Sports Medicine, American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine and the American Osteopathic Academy of Sports Medicine.

The legislation, sponsored by Middlesex County’s own Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. (D-District 18) and Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin (D-District 34, Essex and Passaic), also would direct State officials to work with medical professionals to develop a Student-Athlete Cardiac Screening professional development module to increase the assessment skills of those medical professionals who perform student-athlete assessments and screenings.

As some of you may already know, Middlesex County is home to a number of award-winning schools. This Freeholder Board has a long and proud tradition of investing in education to ensure that our students receive a quality education in state-of-the-art facilities.
Middlesex County also supports the athletic programs and extracurricular activities each school offers. We have committed ourselves to offering the finest County recreational facilities for the benefit of all our residents. Our baseball diamonds and soccer and football fields, walking paths, family ice rink, cricket pitches and hiking trails ensure that our residents have access to great active recreational pursuits.
I commend Assemblymen Diegnan and Giblin for sharing our dedication to the health of our children and grandchildren. I am encouraging all residents to call their legislators to let them know how important it is to pass this bill.
You can read the complete Scholastic Student-Athlete Safety Act on the NJ Legislature website at: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2012/Bills/S2000/1912_R3.HTM


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