UIL looks at reducing spring practices

Whether it's on or off the field, the University Interscholastic League wants to make sure all student athletes are kept safe.

When it comes to sports, there's always the risk of getting hurt. As a result, UIL is constantly looking for ways to protect student athletes.

"What we're trying to accomplish is a 360-degree perspective when it comes to health and safety rules. So having not only physicians, but specific specialties represented within the specific practice of medicine, is very important. Then, every rule that we have has to be implemented on a day-to-day basis. So having the coaches association and having the trainers involved in the discussion is really important," Jamey Harrison, UIL Deputy Director, said.

The Medical Advisory Committee and the UIL Legislative Council met Sunday morning in Round Rock.
They hope to tackle some of the biggest issues: concussions, practice guidelines, physical evaluation forms and injury reporting. It's not always that easy.

"We have no say in what the athlete does in the Summer, during the Spring, away from their season. One of the biggest things that came away from this meeting, is that we need to do a better job to the public to educate the parents and the athlete into the pitfalls of overuse injuries," Dr. John Valentine Puig II, Laredo Sports Medicine Clinic, said.

One proposal currently in the works would reduce the number of Spring practices from 18 to 15, being able to conduct those practices over a 30 day period. 

The executive director of the Texas High School Coaches Association believes that will be an advantage, keeping athletes safer through less contact.

"The awareness of the hazards of concussions has grown quite a bit, especially in the coaching community just through education. I think our coaches are very aware and very sensitive to that," DW Rutledge said, executive director of Texas High School Coaches Association.

Recent research regarding concussions have prompted reevaluations of treatment and management recommendations from the high school to the professional level.

"As we've seen the way it's come full circle over the last maybe five to ten years, with how the NFL has become very stringent with their concussion policy, that trickles down to NCAA and now obviously UIL. We need to realize that it needs to be a trickle up effect because it is the young student athlete and the young student athlete brain that is probably at the highest risk," says Dr. Puig II.

Any recommendations from the committee must be approved by the UIL Legislative Council and Commissioner of Education before becoming a policy.