The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) has once again been ranked first nationally for health and athletic safety policies by the Korey Stringer Institute (KSI). It is the second consecutive year that the NJSIAA policies were ranked first in the nation by the KSI.
The KSI is a national sports safety research and advocacy organization based out of the University of Connecticut and is named after the former Minnesota Vikings lineman who died from exertional heat stroke in 2001. The mission of the KSI is to provide research, education, advocacy and consultation to maximize performance, optimize safety and prevent sudden death for athletes and others.
“We are very pleased to be recognized so highly once again,” said Larry White, the Executive Director of the NJSIAA. “We are fortunate that our Medical Advisory Commitee and the athletic trainers in the state have steered us in this direction, especially in terms of heat acclimatization. The biggest thing for us is that the safety and well being of our student-athletes is our number one priority.”
To determine its rankings of all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, the KSI asseses each statewide athletic association in five equally weighted areas - sudden cardiac arrest, traumatic head injuries, exertional heat stroke, appropriate medical coverage and emergency preparedness. When the rankings debuted in 2017, New Jersey was ranked fourth. It moved to No. 1 last year.
Maintaining the ranking was not a foregone conclusion. In the last two years, 31 states have adopted new policies, and 16 did so in the past year. But the NJSIAA standards were judged to be the best.
In this year’s report, the NJSIAA was recognized for its new set of requirements improving environmental monitoring policies, which as a key component have member schools using wet bulb globe temperature as a measure of environmental stress placed on athletes.
New Jersey received a perfect score of 20 points in the Sudden Cardiac Arrest category, and its point totals more than doubled the national averages in Exertional Heat Stroke and Energency Prepardness. All told, the NJSIAA policies were judged better than the national averages in every category.
“With more than 7.8 million high school students participating in sanctioned sports each year, the need for comprehensive safety policies and training is critical. Adopting evidence-based safety measures significantly reduces risks,” said Douglas Cesa, professor of kinesiology and CEO of the Korey Stringer Institute. “We are excited to see so many positive health and safety policy changes for high school athletes across the nation. Many key advocates in states have made strides to push the envelope and make sports safer for those kids - and we are grateful for their efforts.”