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Youth Sports Safety Alliance meets in Washington, D.C.

Youth sports have been the staple of a healthy childhood for years, but as more evidence emerges about the potential safety risks, parents have understandably grown concerned. Recently, the Youth Sports Safety Alliance met in Washington, D.C., to discuss if anything can be done to ensure young athletes are protected from concussions and other common injuries, The Associated Press reports.

The meeting, which was held earlier in February, resulted in a list of rules high schools should implement to keep their student athletes safe. Among the suggestions is a recommendation that each school should have an athletic trainer on hand as well as a call for more up-to-date equipment. The coalition was made up of more than 100 organizations and also highlighted the importance of having better-trained coaches and access to health care, whether a student is playing with used soccer or football equipment.

Meeting these requirements is often easier said than done, officials say. An estimated 42 percent of high schools don't have any access to an athletic trainer, and around 47 percent don't meet the required number of nurses. Many schools lack the adequate funding to pay for such services, according to some school officials. 

"You get into schools with less than 30 kids in the schools, they're not going to have the money," New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association executive director Patrick Corbin told the AP. "They're lucky if they can find a physician in those places."

There have certainly been strides made in protecting high school athletes over the last several years. Statistics show that in 2011, 39 student-athletes died due to injury, which was a significant decline from the 49 students who passed away the year before. Experts say this is due in large part to the fact that schools are increasingly more cautious when it comes to letting students play after sustaining a concussion. 

The growing focus on player safety at the high school level echoes the ongoing discussion about concussions and other injuries on the professional and collegiate level. This is especially true in the National Football League, where many high-profile players have been sidelined with concussions. In fact, in September the league contributed $30 million to the National Institutes of Health in an effort to better understand head injuries. 

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