There are movements within this state and across the country to encourage more comprehensive pre-participation screening of student-athletes involving complete medical histories and more inclusive and mandated forms. To oppose such movements is like opposing motherhood and apple pie. But we do want to bring balance to the discussion.
The MHSAA is among a declining number of statewide high school athletic associations in the country that has an annual requirement that each student has a statement on file in the office of the superintendent, principal or athletic director – signed by an MD, DO, Physician’s Assistant or Nurse Practitioner and dated April 15 of the previous school year or later – that certifies the student passed a physical examination and is physically able to compete in athletic tryouts, practices and contests. If a student fails to be in compliance but participates in a contest, the result is forfeiture of that contest by the student’s team.
No particular form is required. The MHSAA provides, upon request and free of charge to member schools in whatever quantity needed, a form that has been designed according to the input of both athletic administrators and medical authorities. The bottom section, which includes emergency information for the student and consent for medical treatment, can be detached and is usually kept in the first aid kit that accompanies each team to each practice and contest.
The different requests to adopt a more comprehensive form will be evaluated against recommendations by the national Sports Medicine Advisory Committee on which MHSAA staff member Tom Minter serves. The final result may be the adoption by the MHSAA Representative Council of an online “long form” as a recommended alternative to the “short form” card. Local schools would continue to have the option to use either form or any number of other forms they wish to allow families and physicians to use.
In any event, the MHSAA will continue to seek the necessary balance between the desire to promote student health and safety and the desire to promote access to athletic programs for those who have limited access to medical care, including those who live in poverty or are not English-speaking. What seems obvious and easy to one part of our diverse constituency can look like an insurmountable hurdle to participation by others.