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Tennessee becomes first state to set up safety ratings for youth sports leagues

(WZTV)

The Tennessee Department of Health and Vanderbilt teamed up this week to try and cut down on the amount of injuries in youth sports.

The two groups have set up safety ratings for sports leagues statewide so parents can make better decisions.

The new rating system is called Safe Stars. Each sports league will receive a gold silver or bronze rating, depending on safety performance.

Starting July 13, parents will be able to check and see if youth sports leagues in Tennessee follow state recommended safety protocols for leagues that have signed up.

"It not only raises the bar," said Alex Diamond, pediatric sports medicine physician at Vanderbilt. "It sets the bar for the country. This is the first program of its kind."

If a sports league receives a bronze star, that means the organization has an emergency action plan, background checks on coaches, and trained staff to recognize and manage concussion and sudden cardiac arrest incidents among other requirements.

If a league scores a gold or silver rating, they have taken even more safety steps.

"We know sports are a wonderful thing for kids," Diamond said. "It provides physical activity and confidence and health and well being. There are risks, but a lot of those risks we can mitigate."

It's good news for Lauren Massey who has kids in sports.

"I think it's fabulous," Massey said. "It would be one more tool parents could use to help decide what their kids do and what route to steer them in."

Piper Cleveland, a star volleyball player in high school, gave up sports when she went to college.

"Had I not had a concussion or multiple head injuries, I probably would've continued in college," Cleveland said. "When we came to college, my mom and I were discussing the pros-cons. Even though I got offers, we were saying the head injuries and permanent damage it could cause is not worth playing in college so we decided against it."

For more information about Safe Stars click here.


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