Florida ranks 23rd for protecting student athletes

Reporter: Lauren Sweeney
Published: Updated:

FORT MYERS, Fla. Florida falls in the middle of the pack when it comes to protecting student athletes, a University of Connecticut study shows.

Researchers at the Korey Stringer Institute, a sports safety research and advocacy organization sponsored by the National Football League, looked at how well states do at implementing safety guidelines.

The study looked at policies specific to heat stroke, head trauma, cardiac arrest, emergency preparedness and availability of health coverage.

Points were assigned to specific recommended guidelines for each topic area.

Florida scored a 48.25 out of 100, losing points for not having a mandated heat modification policy for all schools as well as not requiring cooling immersion tubs.

The study comes on the heels of the July 10 death of a Southwest Florida football player.

Zachary Tyler Martin-Polsenberg, 16, died days after collapsing from heat stroke at a practice at Riverdale High School on June 29, his family said.

Florida High School Athletic Association guidelines were followed during the offseason practice in which he collapsed, the Lee County school district said.

Those guidelines require only about a third of the best practices for preventing heat stroke outlined by the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine, the UConn study shows.

But for traumatic head injuries, Florida scored points for implementing more than 70 percent of the recommended guidelines.

North Carolina fared the best in the study, and Colorado scored the lowest. Full findings by state can be accessed here.

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