We enter the 2011 holiday season in full swing at BSN. We have held two recent regional sales meetings in Atlanta and Indianapolis – our first regional meetings since the announcement that BSN was combining our athletic catalog and field sales operations under the Company’s flagship BSN SPORTS brand. The meetings were an important opportunity for us to discuss our progress fusing our road, phone, catalog and digital assets into a single brand.
We also continue to make terrific progress on our Victory Grant program and recently announced our first major grant to the St. Philip’s School and Community Center of Dallas. This fantastic institution provides a strong academic environment and athletic programs for inner city children from low income families. The grant will be used to purchase new equipment to improve and expand athletic programs that would have been otherwise impacted by ongoing funding challenges. Click here for terrific photos from the Grant ceremony itself, and stay tuned for more info on grant dates in the future. We expect the pace of new grant announcements to accelerate in the coming months, and express our thanks to the thousands of institutions that have applied for funds.
In addition to these updates from BSN, I often try to use this space to provide a thought or two on the sporting goods industry, and trends of relevance to our customers. This week, I am tracking some recent developments in the area of athletic safety – which has received a lot of attention amid football season, in particular.
I want to say at the outset: there are no simple answers to managing player safety, but it is nonetheless of paramount importance across all athletic activities. This is not a football-specific issue; rather, we believe that player safety must be viewed as a priority across gender lines and sports activities. A few thoughts in this regard:
- It’s all about education and awareness: With close to 7 million high school athletes in the United States, awareness is essential and it is encouraging to see industry participants leading the way. For example, Northwestern University hosted a symposium, “”Playing It Safe: Changing the Mindset Around Concussion Safety in Sports” to candidly assess the estimated 140,000 concussions that occur among high school students. The takeaway: when in doubt, sit them out. We agree.
- Role Models Start at the Top: The NFL, in particular, has been on the leading edge of spotting serious injuries (notably, concussions) and putting in place aggressive new procedures to spot problems and act on them. Most recently, the league will start instructing referees to be on the lookout for obvious signs of concussions in players – the kind of smart, common-sense strategy that will surely make a difference as the referees are in a great spot to identify health problems before they become critical. Inspired, in part, by the NFL’s attention on this issue, over half of all U.S. states now have some form of student-athlete concussion law in place, and nearly a dozen other states have youth concussion legislation pending. Roughly 20 states passed their youth concussion laws in 2011.
- Training: BSN SPORTS applauds efforts from The National Center for Sports Safety, a non-profit organization formed in 2001, to promote the importance of injury prevention and safety on all levels of youth sports through education and research. This group has developed a training program called PREPARE, which is a sports safety course that was developed in 2004, in conjunction with the National Athletic Trainers Association, to educate coaches and volunteers how to prevent common injuries, how to recognize symptoms of potentially dangerous conditions, and how to respond in emergency situations. Programs like these should be adopted and used at all levels of scholastic athletics – a common-sense step that would help promote safety by leaps and bounds.
There is no magic bullet for these issues, but it is vitally important that we minimize and proactively control injuries to kids at the elementary, high school, and college level. Doing so will require a smart combination of education, leadership, and common-sense reforms.
As always, thanks for reading our blog and staying connected to the BSN SPORTS community. Stay tuned for more updates and exciting news, and as always don’t hesitate to contact me directly if you have any questions.