If you are a fan of Major League Baseball, you can’t help but notice that hitting production continues to fall. This year is worse than last and the decline, in just about every category, has been steady over the last five years.
The primary reason is MLB’s zero tolerance for steroids and HGH. Many home runs of a decade ago have become warning track outs. Furthermore, without the juice, hitters aren’t able to turn as quickly and are just plain missing.
Another reason is the rise of talent among pitchers. In the 70s, Nolan Ryan was the only pitcher who could throw in the 90s. By the turn of the century, every team had one or two power pitchers. Now, at least half the hurlers on a particular roster can register 90 on the radar.
Credit better conditioning, efficient technique, and year-round baseball for more pitchers meeting the need for speed. However, all that speed comes at a price. According to a position statement published last month by Dr. James Andrews’ American Sports Medicine Institute, “Pitchers with high ball velocity are at increased risk of injury.”
Speed may kill batting averages, but it also kills elbows. Consequently, all the power we are seeing from the mound has pushed Tommy John surgery to epidemic proportions. One may then surmise that good pitchers being sidelined would help hitters. It probably would if there weren’t so many power pitchers ready and waiting in the minors.
Not the case at the high school level where Tommy John surgery has become common, too.
And unless that high school pitcher and his parents give permission to his coach to release to the press the nature of the injury and its treatment, that coach should remain silent.
According to a document published jointly by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Education, such information is definitely protected by the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). And, depending on the circumstances, it very well may be protected the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
If the athlete was treated by a team physician and/or athletic trainer who, in turn, electronically billed the athlete for that service, then the information is definitely covered by HIPAA.
For those who may wonder, athletic trainers are indeed medical providers subject to HIPAA every bit as much as physicians or nurses are.
Whether or not athletic trainers are affordable at the high school level is a subject of debate that was covered in this space last week. In case you had any doubt after reading last week’s column, permit me to share a few more statistics -- which came to light in the last seven days.
The University of Alabama raised football coach Nick Saban’s salary from $5.5 million to $6.9 million per year for the next eight years. Meanwhile, the University of Kentucky raised basketball coach John Calipari from $5.2 million to an average of $7.5 million for the next seven years. If state governments can afford that kind of money for coaches, then they can certainly afford the roughly $50,000 per year a high school athletic trainer would cost.
John Doherty is a licensed athletic trainer and physical therapist. This column reflects solely his opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JDohertyATCPT.