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TUSD shifts spotlight on football safety

The district will honor athletic trainers with stickers on football helmets
Published: Sep. 8, 2021 at 10:21 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - If you’re a fan of Friday night lights, you may notice a new sticker on the back of some football helmets in southern Arizona.

“It’s an Arizona shape and it has “A-T” in the middle. It stands for athletic trainer,” said Palo Verde High School athletic trainer Bart Peterson.

The Arizona Athletic Trainers Initiative and the Arizona Athletic Trainers’ Association have organized a “Safety in Sports Campaign” in a show of support, all nine Tucson Unified schools will wear the stickers—showing their commitment to making football as safe as possible—a mission that Bart Peterson has dedicated decades to.

“It means a lot to me personally to be able to put that on the back of a kid’s helmet, to be able to say, ‘You are protected by an athletic trainer; we have your back,’” said Peterson.

Peterson has been taking care of athletes at Palo Verde High School for over two decades.

“When I started, we treated concussions differently, if you could walk and you were walking crooked and couldn’t pronounce words, if you were vertical you could go back into the game,” said Peterson. “There is a number of high schools in Tucson, most high schools have an athletic trainer, those kids deserve an athletic trainer.”

Peterson says having an athletic trainer should not be viewed as a luxury but rather a necessity. It’s concerning for an athlete, he said, if there isn’t someone to provide care immediately if there’s an injury.

“The old adage of ‘rub some dirt on it’ doesn’t carry weight anymore,” said Peterson. “It’s important to have that extra level of care.”

Peterson, alongside coaches, are doing their part to work to raise safety standards.

“We can manage the risk by managing the things we can control,” said Peterson. “We can control the amount of padding they wear, the hydration, how they hit.”

The athletic training stickers will be worn on all TUSD helmets through the beginning of October.

“The real concern is for the athlete if we don’t have someone there to provide that care immediately, that’s a big deal,” said Peterson.

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