Tennessee sets up safety ratings for youth sports leagues

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A new statewide initiative will launch this week to try to cut down on the amount of injuries in youth sports leagues.

The Tennessee Department of Health and Vanderbilt have teamed up to create “Safe Stars,” a recommended safety ratings system for leagues in Tennessee.

The program is free to youth sports leagues and parents will have access to see what leagues have signed up. Safety ratings have been set up for sports leagues and each league that applies will receive either a gold, silver or bronze rating, based on their safety performance.

Bronze means the organization has has background checks on all coaches, an emergency action plan, and trained staff who can respond to cardiac or even concussion incidents, among other safety measures. Silver and gold includes even more safety precautions.

More online: Safe Stars Initiative

“We know the epidemic of youth sports and injury across the United States,” said Dr. Gregory Mathien, sports medicine surgeon at Knoxville Orthopaedic Clinic.

Dr. Mathien works with the Vols and Knoxville Orthopaedic Clinic is the sports medical provider for Knox County Schools.

“As youth sports has become more competitive and more intense, we see older injuries recurring in older athletes,” said Dr. Mathien.

Dr. Mathien said the sooner we can have this kind of awareness and management, the better off these young athletes will be.

“I think it will set a certain level of care that’s going to be necessary. That moms and dads can see their child is being taken care of when they can’t be at practice,” said Dr. Mathien.

The Tennessee Department of Health says interested leagues can take look at the application right now. It is already posted online. The initiative will officially launch on July 13, 2017. Once applications are reviewed, parents will be able to access the ratings on the same site and see if their child’s league is rated bronze, silver or gold.

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