View From Above

August 31, 2017

This fall, Atkins High School in Winston-Salem, N.C., will start having two people sit in the press box at football games. Their task will be to watch for any players who might have suffered an injury, similar to the NFL's “Eyes in the Sky” program.

According to the Winston-Salem Journal, the pair in the press box, at least one of whom will be an athletic trainer, will be in addition to the athletic trainer and physician from Wake Forest University Medical Center stationed on the sidelines. The personnel in the press box will be observing athletes for any potential symptoms of injuries. If they see anything, they will use handheld radios to alert the athletic trainer and physician on the field, who will remove the injured player from the game and treat them. 

Apart from the full-time personnel involved, the program only requires a handheld radio and a pair of binoculars, which cost roughly $200 in total. Jonathan Reidy, LAT, ATC, Head Athletic Trainer at Atkins, said the spotters would be looking out for concussions, as well as other injuries, and that it will be good to have another perspective on the game.

“It’s basically just another set of eyes from a different vantage point, looking for any potential injuries,” Reidy said.“We’re just trying to prevent as many injuries from going unseen or unnoticed as possible.”

David Hamlin, Atkins' Head Football Coach, said additional people watching the game would be able to notice potential problems that coaches might miss.

“It’s just like with coaching — the more eyes you can have from different perspectives, the better you’re going to be,” Hamlin said. “Especially in this situation, when a lot is going on and there’s so much focus on winning, recognizing an injury could be a big difference for a kid who shouldn’t be out there.”

Reidy hopes more schools will follow suit with similar injury spotter programs in years to come.

“This is an experiment, and we obviously don’t have any objective data yet, but this first season will get us that,” Reidy said. “And if we can just prevent one kid from having a second-impact syndrome, then that one prevention from a catastrophic injury can really be life-changing.”​

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