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Conference to feature national leaders on youth sports safety

Jun. 1, 2017, 2:38 PM

People committed to making youth sports safer will meet in Nashville July 13-14 for a biennial event that has become one of the nation’s premier conferences on the topic.

Speakers at the 2017 Youth Sports Safety Conference and Celebration Gala

include the chief medical officers of the NFL and the NCAA as well as executives of professional sports teams. Neurologists, neurosurgeons, orthopaedic surgeons, pediatricians, other sports medicine experts and safety advocates are also on the agenda. Allen Sills, M.D., former director of the Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center, was appointed in March to be the NFL’s first chief medical officer.

Alex Diamond, D.O., MPH

“There is no other lineup quite like this,” said Alex Diamond, D.O., MPH, director of the Program for Injury Prevention in Youth Sports (PIPYS) and assistant professor of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation and Pediatrics at Vanderbilt.

The conference begins with a 6 p.m. dinner on July 13 that will recognize a high school athlete for his sportsmanship. Tristian Jackson of Trezevant High School in Memphis didn’t let the adrenaline rush of playing for a state football championship keep him from being mindful of an opponent’s injuries. After a player from another team took some hard hits and fell atop him unconscious during a pileup, he stayed on the ground motionless until paramedics could remove the player. Other high school athletes have received recognition in years past for exhibiting similar leadership.

Also during the dinner, details will be announced about a new initiative developed by PIPYS and the Tennessee Department of Health to help parents determine the level of safety measures implemented by individual youth sports leagues. The Safe Stars program in Tennessee will be the first of its kind in the nation that creates statewide standards —gold, silver or bronze — based on their policies for weather play, concussion education, injury prevention, positive culture and other safety precautions.

On Friday, July 14, there will be a full day of educational sessions. All events, including the dinner at the Field House, occur at the Vanderbilt Recreation and Wellness Center complex. Although the events are limited to two days, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has issued a proclamation declaring the entire week Youth Sports & Physical Fitness Week.

“One of our ideas behind the conference is to bring everyone together who has a stake in this issue,” Diamond said. “We’re giving them a chance to talk among one another, network and hear different perspectives. I think we all learn from each other and have the chance to make meaningful change when we also know what people in the trenches face.”

Sports-related injuries impact an estimated 3.5 million children and another 2 million high school athletes each year. The conference offers continuing medical education credit opportunities for physicians, certified athletic trainers and other professions involved with youth sports.

In addition to experts from Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), the speakers include representatives of The College of New Jersey, Safe Kids Worldwide, Kaiser Permanente, Baylor College of Medicine, the Tennessee Department of Health and the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga.

Sean Henry, chief executive officer of the Nashville Predators, is also in the lineup.

The keynote address will be given by Trajan Langdon, a former NBA star and professional baseball player, who is now assistant general manager of the Brooklyn Nets. When he was in high school, he received a Dial Award, which is given to the nation’s top male and female student-athlete.

The conference is presented by PIPYS — a partnership between Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and Vanderbilt Sports Medicine — as well as SafeKids Cumberland Valley.

Visit www.childrenshospital.vanderbilt.org/sportssafetyconference for information about registration.

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