Dictionary.com defines advocacy as the act of pleading for, supporting, or recommending. During the past few weeks, I have experienced the essence of advocacy in the athletic training profession on both an international and a state level. The president of the National Athletic Trainers' Association and former editorial board member for Athletic Training & Sports Health Care, Mr. Tory Lindley, has recommended that athletic trainers advocate for and take ownership of their profession. I participated in two events recently that reinforced my belief that this message is alive and well in our profession today.
In early October, I travelled to the 8th International Ankle Symposium in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Athletic Training & Sports Health Care has supported this meeting and published some of the reports that emanated from the biennial event in the past. This preeminent affair is a chance for scholars, educators, and clinicians from across the globe with a keen interest in ankle injuries to get together and influence future treatment and research agendas. This year's event did not disappoint. Equally important was the prominent role that the U.S. athletic training community played on the worldwide stage.
During the 2nd International Ankle Symposium in 2004, my colleague Dr. Jay Hertel and I founded the International Ankle Consortium. At this year's symposium, the consortium made giant steps toward becoming the international voice for all things ankle related. The symposium itself celebrated 20 years of gatherings, and it is so exciting for us to see the path that has been paved by such a dedicated group of individuals. The role of the certified athletic trainers in the group to advocate for the profession and tackle the most common athletic-related injury (ankle sprains) that the world's sporting community faces is extremely satisfying.
My home institution, the University of Delaware, recently hosted the Korey Stringer Institute and its Chief Executive Officer Dr. Doug Casa from the University of Connecticut. The Korey Stringer Institute's mission is to provide research, education, advocacy, and consultation to maximize performance, optimize safety, and prevent sudden death for the athlete, warfighter, and laborer. While in Delaware, the Korey Stringer Institute held a meeting for agents of change for high school athletes with their program titled “Collaborative Solutions for Safety in Delaware High School Sports,” which is part of their 50-state tour “State High School Sport Health and Safety Policy Initiative.” The nationwide campaign is meant to increase the implementation of sports safety policies affecting high school athletes in the United States.
Through a series of breakout group sessions, the athletic trainers, coaches, administrators, sport safety advocates, and policy makers collaborated to produce actionable items to improve the health and safety policies already in place for Delaware interscholastic athletes. The professionalism and dedication shown by the team from the Korey Stringer Institute is certainly a testament to their leader Dr. Doug Casa, who has been advocating for the athletic training profession and helping sports participation at all levels remain fun, enjoyable, and safe for more than 25 years. Kudos to Dr. Casa and his colleagues for changing sports safety policy for the better one state at a time!