High school athletics are the most important competitive years of an interscholastic athlete’s career. Universities and professionals watch closely for potential recruits as student-athletes compete and balance their workloads. There are many factors a student-athlete can control such as their, skill and schedule. However, there are some variables outside of their control that can ruin their future due to physical injury. Variables such as the health of their athletic environment. Sports fields and facilities host countless competitions that can make or break an athlete’s career. Because they are frequently utilized for a myriad of events, sports facilities need careful maintenance or may fall into disrepair. Anything faulty expired, worn out, or out of place poses a safety threat to athletes as well as parents or staff. As an athletic director, one of the responsibilities is to maintain sports fields and facilities.
Safety is a primary concern in all athletic administrations. It is an athletic director’s responsibility to maintain safety within all interscholastic athletic aspects. From gear and practice schedules to the maintenance and security of sports facilities, they have to consider safety first. Not only does it protect student-athletes from unnecessary harm, but it also protects everyone utilizing the facility from accidental injury. Guaranteeing safety isn’t easy; it requires teamwork, communication, vigilance, and the right questions.
Under the oversight of an athletic director, administrators and coaches need to be involved with sports facility maintenance. They need to know what to look for, where equipment belongs, and how to identify areas under repair. Keeping facilities in adequate and appropriate shape reduces the chance of accidental injury that may hurt a student-athlete’s career.
Question 1: Is maintenance equipment removed from the playing surface and stored appropriately?
Before facilities are opened to use by athletes and fans, administrators need to ensure maintenance equipment is removed and put in its proper storage area. Maintenance equipment can include lawnmowers, chemicals, ladders, tools, and cleaning supplies. Removal and appropriate storage of maintenance equipment help twofold – it avoids mishaps in the facility and prolongs the equipment’s lifespan.
Equipment that is left unattended invites attention from curious minds and may cause injury. Administrations need to securely store their equipment to avoid meddling or they may be found liable. Furthermore, maintenance equipment that is stored appropriately will last longer. Athletic administrations don’t want to spend the additional funding on neglected equipment; they want it to last as long as possible.
Question 2: Are there any visible dangers on the field of play that need to be addressed?
Along with checking for misplaced maintenance equipment, administrators and coaches should search the sports facility for any health hazards. Broken irrigation systems, holes in the field, wet spots on a court, or exposed wiring needs to be addressed immediately. If necessary, games or practices can be delayed until the field of play is cleared of all health threats. To avoid injuries caused by misplaced maintenance equipment or random dangers, rules can be established that require facilities to be routinely checked prior to a game’s commencement.
Question 3: Is there adequate padding where appropriate?
Around edges, behind basketball hoops, and field goal posts are a few examples where padding needs to be present. Similar to searching for foreign objects on the field of play, administrators need to check that padding is reasonable and proper. Sometimes padding is removed for maintenance and not returned, or worn out and inadequate. Padding is usually placed where it is necessary, which means that its absence is a safety threat. Administrators need to frequently check padding to avoid any injuries due to removal or wear.
Question 4: Are nuts, bolts, and fastening devices tight and secure?
Similar to the question regarding maintenance equipment, this question is answered twofold. Loose or exposed nuts and bolts can cause injury, and secured nuts and bolts ensure strong bleachers or equipment. Many sports facility hazards are small and hidden. Without frequent comprehensive scrutiny, small issues can become major health hazards. Facilities need to be inspected by administration frequently as well as safety professionals semi-frequently to ensure safety measures are appropriate.
Questions 5: Are areas under repair identified and posted appropriately?
If problems are found and repairs are underway, athletic administrations need to clearly identify the locations. High school sports facilities are usually integrated within the school. To avoid any accidents caused by ongoing construction or repairs, clearly marked signs and obstacles need to be put in place. To go one step further, successful athletic administrations release updates regarding their sports facilities so the school and students are kept aware.
The Right Questions Maintain a Safe Sports Facility
Safety is paramount for athletic administrations and the school itself. They are responsible for student-athletes’ health, and those pursuing a college or professional athletic career can’t afford unforeseen accidents. Sports facilities, like any facilities, can go overlooked and fall prey to mismanagement. It’s critical that athletic staff ask the right questions when observing the field of play: Is everything in place? Are there any foreign objects? Is the padding secure? Are all repairs clearly marked? Just by asking these questions, high school athletic staff can provide a safe environment in which athletes can succeed.
Ohio University Online Master of Athletic Administration program specializes in developing interscholastic Athletic Directors, building on the students’ passion for serving young student-athletes and running a highly-successful athletic department. Ohio University is a pioneer in sports education. By establishing the first academic program in the field of sports administration, this online program is recognized today as the premier professional training program for candidates seeking careers in the sports industry.