Dec 28, 2017
What Are Your Pet Peeves?
Larry Cooper

What frustrates you? What gets under your skin as an athletic trainer? I started to ask some athletic trainer friends from across the country, and what I found out may or may not surprise you. I guess you could say that there are a number of seasoned athletic trainers who can relate to Rodney Dangerfield on a regular basis.

As you read through their responses, keep in mind a quote by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung that I recently read: “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” This just might help you become a better athletic trainer, colleague, friend, sibling, spouse, mentor, or parent.

What are your pet peeves?

  1. Being asked, “Do you work at a gym?”
  2. Coaches who do not adhere to schedules and change the time or date or a game/practice without letting you know.
  3. Student athletes who don’t understand it takes some time, effort, and work to return from their injury.
  4. Not being notified about schedule changes.
  5. When parents, coaches, and athletes question the evaluation you just performed on a student-athlete.
  6. When student-athletes don’t take the time or effort to hand the water bottle back to you, and they throw it on the ground or floor instead.
  7. When coaches send a student-athlete into the athletic training room for stim or an ultrasound on an injury that you weren’t even aware of.
  8. Coaches who borrow coolers and either don’t return them or return them in disgustingly dirty shape.
  9. Borrowing anything from the athletic training facility without asking.
  10. Leaving the scoop in the ice machine.
  11. Receiving notes from a doctor about an injury that don’t contain a diagnosis or explanation of care instructions.
  12. Being chastised for taking a day off.
  13. Dr. Google and its magical medical advice, along with the assistant Dr. YouTube. When told about an injury diagnosis, the person replies, “Well that isn’t what I found when I Googled it.”
  14. When a coach or parent tries to tell you how to do your job.
  15. When schedules change to accommodate a coach’s personal life but you are always expected to disrupt your personal life to accommodate the needs of others.
  16. When athletes show up at the athletic training room at the last minute and expect one-on-one care when you should be covering a game, scrimmage, or practice.
  17. Athletes who come in during your sports medicine class and want you to look at their injury right then rather than coming to the athletic training room after school like everyone else.
  18. When teams don’t show for their scheduled baseline concussion testing times.
  19. When a student-athlete comes in to the athletic training room and says, “I need this or that,” rather than using those special words: “Please” or “Thank you.”
  20. When you pull out all the stops to get a student-athlete seen by a physician and then they decide to go somewhere else because they didn’t like or agree with your diagnosis.
  21. Coaches who think that because they were an athlete at one time in their life that they can do your job.
  22. Other health care professionals not knowing what an athletic trainer is or what skill set we bring to the table every day.
  23. Being called “trainer” by anyone.
  24. How EVERYTHING needs to be taped.
  25. When people ask if you can “K-tape that?”
  26. Misconceived notions about a player’s skill level/future potential that alters logical decision-making. For example, anyone who tells kids they will make NCAA Division I in the seventh grade and pushes them into early specialization and no offseason.
  27. When folks only do something until it is “good enough.” Then, they expect others to fill the gap between them and their expectations.
  28. Coaches and athletic directors who don’t follow well-established procedures designed to protect them, the institution, and the athlete.
  29. Parents who submit incomplete preparticipation paperwork and then complain when their child isn’t placed on the cleared/eligibility list.
  30. Coaches who give out your personal cell number to parents/athletes.
  31. Coaches who recognize long lists of people at banquets who help their program but fail to mention the athletic trainer.
  32. Coaches who hand out team gear to every person who has anything to do with their program but fail to provide any gear to the athletic trainer.
  33. Anybody who refuses to hold kids accountable for their actions.
  34. Teachers/admin/any adult who prefers to be friends with student-athletes rather than be an adult around them.
  35. Coaches and parents who feel a need to constantly swear and talk at a level similar to the students.
  36. Finally being ready to leave for the day. Then, you realize you are the last person to leave the building or campus. The Gator is still out and needs to be put away, every room in the building needs to be locked, every light in the building needs to be turned off, all the televisions need to be turned off, and you have to set the alarm. Add another 15 minutes to your day.
  37. Helicopter parents who do everything for their kid and think their child is incapable of doing it themselves.
  38. Parents/athletes who think the rules don’t apply to them and they can negotiate around paperwork and proper care. For example: “Suzy doesn’t need to do the concussion steps because she rode her bike yesterday and practiced club soccer.”
  39. Parents who argue that they don’t have to complete the school district or state-required paperwork, negotiating that the doctor’s paperwork is the same thing.
  40. Parents who feel that yelling will change the requirements for their child. Their child is not better or different than anyone else’s. The rules are there for a reason — to protect their child.
  41. Athletes who come up and interrupt you to tell you about their injury while you are seeing another patient or talking to someone else.
  42. Athletes on their mobile phones while you are evaluating their injury or while they are doing rehab exercises.
  43. Coming in at 7:00 a.m. because that is when coach wanted treatments scheduled and the first athlete shows up at 7:45.
  44. Club coaches and the parents who believe only those paid-to-play coaches have knowledge,
  45. The athletes who come in on Monday with injuries from their club team’s practice on Sunday.
  46. Coaches/parents/whoever that does not allow kids to rest and recover.
  47. Coaches who unlock the door to your facility to let athletes get what they need, and you return to a facility that’s been ransacked by unsupervised students.
  48. People who park in front of the emergency access gate or block your cart in so you can’t get out.
  49. Parents who think they are more important than all the other parents sitting in the stands and come stand on the sideline.
  50. Parents or coaches who want you to come in on your day off to do treatments or concussion protocols so they can get an athlete to return faster.

As you can see, it does not matter where in the country you live or what level you work at, the problems we all face are very similar. It’s situations like these that also make me realize that collecting data, using the secondary school value model, professionalism, sticking to our protocols, morals, ethics, and using common sense are all strategies that can help us avoid some of these scenarios.

So to all athletic trainers out there, I say to you: keep fighting the good fight. Realize that you make a difference every day, be thankful we have variety in our job, and be blessed that you picked a profession that gives you the best seat in the house for every athletic event.

Larry Cooper, MS, LAT, ATC, is Head Athletic Trainer at Penn-Trafford High School in Harrison City, Pa., where he also teaches health, physical education, and sports medicine classes. Since 2012, he has served as Chair of the NATA Secondary School Athletic Trainers' Committee. Winner of a 2016 NATA Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award, 2015 T&C Most Valuable Athletic Trainer Award, and 2014 NATA Athletic Training Service Award, he was inducted into the Pennsylvania Athletic Trainers' Society Hall of Fame in 2014. Cooper can be reached at: [email protected].

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