Risk Management Plans: Existence and Enforcement at NIAAA Member High School Athletic Departments

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The purpose of this study was to explore the current scenario of interscholastic athletics in terms of the existence and enforcement of risk management plans within high school athletic departments. Another purpose was to identify the common practices related to risk management currently utilized. The present study had a response rate of 16.7%. The results showed that 76.2 % of the respondents (N=816) conduct interscholastic activities with the support of risk management plans, but there are still 23.8% of those interscholastic athletic departments where risk management plans are nonexistent. In addition, from those who indicated having a risk management plan, 28% do not enforce it. A majority of respondents seem to be employing risk management best practices consistently, but there is an indication of a less than desired level of adoption of some practices (i.e., informed consent forms, pre-season sport specific meetings, ADA compliance, coach evaluation and written criteria, safety training, accessibility of AED’s, and warning signs). The results of our study showed a statistically significant relationship between the athletic directors’ years of experience and the adoption of certain risk management practices (i.e. coach evaluation, evaluation criteria, risk management enforcement, and hazard abatement), but (surprisingly) not to the adoption of other similarly important practices. This study provides high school athletic administrators and principals with relevant information that can be used to support their decision to adopt and enforce risk management plans for interscholastic athletic activities.