National Youth Sports Health & Safety Institute Suits Up to Ensure Safe Environments for All Youth Athletes

In This Section:

National Youth Sports Health & Safety Institute Suits Up to Ensure Safe Environments for All Youth Athletes

June 16, 2021

Institute Launches Youth Sports Policy Agenda

Protecting children participating in youth sports is the focus of a bold, new policy agenda introduced today by the National Youth Sports Health & Safety Institute (NYSHSI), a joint initiative by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and Sanford Health. As the leader in advocating for advancing and disseminating the latest research and evidence-based education, the institute built the agenda on seven pillars of athlete health and safety.

“Protecting children is paramount in youth sports,” said William O. Roberts, M.D., FACSM, ACSM past president and NYSHSI Leadership Board Chair. “I’m not just talking about sports injury. It’s protecting them emotionally, mentally as well as physically, including abuse of any type.”

Approximately 70% of youth between 13 and 17 participate in sports annually. For young athletes, regular participation provides multiple physical and mental health benefits, as well as a chance to learn about discipline, commitment, setting and achieving goals, teamwork and fair play. The benefits can even extend to academic achievement.

Unfortunately, when playing sports long enough, hard enough and often enough, the potential for sustaining an injury is a reality of the game. Playing by the rules, using the right equipment and protective gear, and learning proper technique all contribute to minimizing injury risk. Adequate sleep, nutrition and hydration also contribute to peak performance and athlete safety. Every youth athlete, no matter the level of ability, should be able to enjoy any sport in a safe environment.

A poll conducted by ACSM showed 91% of Americans feel sports participation is important for children and adolescents, yet 94% feel more needs to be done to ensure the health and safety of youth athletes. These concerns are fueled by reports of heat illness, concussion, undiagnosed heart conditions and other issues affecting athletes of all ages.

“As a pediatric sports medicine physician and mom of three kids involved in sports, I fully support this policy agenda,” said Anastasia Fischer, M.D., FACSM, ACSM president-elect. “It takes a holistic view that aims to ensure my children and countless others have the best, most rewarding experience when competing in youth sports.”

To provide a safe environment for all youth athletes, ACSM and NYSHSI believe that each state should take measures to protect athletes as they participate in sports. Several core principles should be considered in any policy or legislation, and the Youth Sports Policy Agenda focuses on seven critical areas of athlete health:

  1. Pre-participation Evaluation (PPE)
  2. Heat Acclimatization
  3. Concussion
  4. Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs)
  5. Youth protections from abuse
  6. Coach education
  7. Injury Management

“The seven areas outlined in our policy agenda create the framework for real change,” said Nate Blessen, System Executive Director, Sanford Orthopedics & Sports Medicine. “This policy agenda highlights the importance of safety and overall well-being of our youth athletes.”

View the full policy agenda and details of the seven areas of focus on the NYSHSI Advocacy page at

# # #


About the National Youth Sports Health & Safety Institute

NYSHSI is dedicated to being the recognized leader and advocate for advancing and disseminating the latest research and evidence-based education, recommendations and policy to enhance the experience, development, health and safety of our youth in sports. The NYSHSI encourages a deliberate early introduction of diverse functional movements and activities that are healthy and fun, as a catalyst for developing a critical foundation, capacity and enthusiasm for sustainable physical activity (sports and otherwise) through childhood, adolescence and beyond.


American College of Sports Medicine

ACSM serves as the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world with more than 50,000 international, national and regional members and certified fitness professionals. All are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine. Find more details at


About Sanford Health

Sanford Health, one of the largest health systems in the United States, is dedicated to the integrated delivery of health care, genomic medicine, senior care and services, global clinics, research and affordable insurance. Headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the organization includes 46 hospitals, 1,500 physicians and more than 200 Good Samaritan Society senior care locations in 26 states and 10 countries. Learn more about Sanford Health's transformative work to improve the human condition at or Sanford Health News.