Published Online: February 5, 1997

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The proportion of high school baseball and softball injuries demanding surgery is in line with the rate at which high school football players must undergo surgery, a recent study by the National Athletic Trainers' Association concludes.

Despite the similarity, fewer than 42 percent of school sports programs have certified athletic trainers to provide education on the prevention of baseball and softball injuries and assist in treatment, the study says.

"Because neither baseball nor softball are considered to be contact sports like football, it surprises parents and coaches that the proportion of injuries are similar," said John W. Powell, an Iowa City, Iowa-based athletic trainer and the director of the study. "These statistics indicate that student-athletes are equally well-served by [certified athletic trainers] in supervising programs that will minimize the risk of reinjury."

The conclusions are drawn from a three-year study of injuries recorded for 110 high school baseball teams and 105 high school softball teams.

The study by the Dallas-based trainers' association found that 1.1 percent of high school students' baseball injuries and 1.4 percent of their injuries sustained from softball required surgery. A similar study of high school football injuries conducted in 1995 found about 1.4 percent of the injuries needed surgery.

Four Maine high schools are serving as pilot sites this year for a new program designed to strengthen the relationship between athletics and academics.

Called "Sports, Schools, and Learning Results," the project focuses on the professional development of coaches to ensure that the lessons of athletics support the local mission of the school and the state's performance-based expectations for students.

A panel of Maine educators conceived the program last summer.

Its draft report, which the pilot schools are using as a guide, includes suggestions for identifying how sports contribute to the educational outcomes of Maine schools, a list of the core skills and attitudes students should gain from participation in sports, and the essential strategies coaches need to help meet the goals.

"As education becomes more outcomes-oriented and goals-directed, students will rely less on directives from teachers and more on their own abilities to organize work and assess progress," said Robert A. Cobb, the dean of education at the University of Maine. "It will take skilled and perceptive coaches to fully capitalize on this new approach to teaching and learning."

--KERRY A. WHITE kwhite@epe.org

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