Guest Post by:
It seems that athletic training etiquette and courtesy has been slowly eroding over the last 30 years. When I was certified by the Board of Certification, 31 years ago, ATs looked out for each other and were courteous during athletic events; it was an understood standard followed by most. Now it seems rare and followed by only a few. I always greet the visiting team and ask if they have an AT with them. If they do I introduce myself to the visiting AT and inform them what we will have available such as physician and EMS coverage and onsite equipment. I also ask if they have any special needs. After the games I try to see if the visiting teams need any assistance before the attending physicians leave.
In recent years when traveling with my teams, I am usually the one seeking out the hosting Athletic Trainer. They often seem surprised as if it were the first time they were exposed to courtesy. I can list numerous examples from the past years but I will only mention a few. Last fall, I was at an away high school football game and as usual there was no sign of the home team’s Athletic Trainer. Twenty minutes before the game I tried finding out if the home team had an AT; I asked an assistant coach and members of the chain crew. They all replied that they had one but did not know where he was. In the third quarter I had to run on the field and evaluate a downed player; there I met the host AT for the first time as he ran on to the field to see who I was.
Another example was at an away basketball tournament over the winter break. When I arrived at the tournament with my team, I expected to encounter the hosting school’s Athletic Trainer; however there were no signs of a host AT. I even asked a teacher from the host school if one was present and she simply replied that she did not think so. During the three day tournament I looked at a few athletes from other schools, even though it was not my responsibility, it was just the right thing to do, thinking I was the only AT present. It was during the championship game that I found out that the tournament had hired an Athletic Trainer. He spent most of his time in the hospitality room and talking on his cell phone.
Last summer, one of my co-workers was at an away basketball tournament. In the game prior to her teams', she happened to witness a player collapse on the court and was unresponsive. She immediately responded and was instrumental in saving this athlete’s life. I do not want to think about what would have happened if she was not there. The host athletic trainer should be courtside and ready to respond at all times, but during big events it is difficult to be in multiple places at once. This is where etiquette is not just being professional, but can be a life saving measure. If the hosting Athletic Trainer introduces themselves to every coach and traveling AT and follows simple rules of Sports Medicine etiquette, then everyone will be on the same page and can respond to emergent and minor medical issues in an appropriate manner.
Medical professionalism and etiquette is not just for in the hospital or in a clinic, it needs to be translated to all realms, especially in the outreach setting. I do not think athletic training etiquette is dead, but it is becoming more rare to find. I am proud to say that our Sports Medicine team strives to not just lead the way in Sports Medicine care, but also in professionalism.