Prep Voices : A periodic forum examining controversial issues in Orange County prep sports : TODAY: THE BLOOD RULE : Two Sides to a Story : A Timeout for Safety Is Imperative
The California Interscholastic Federation has an obligation and, indeed, a moral responsibility to ensure the safety of its students. If there was ever a better reason to take a “timeout” for safety, it’s hard to think of one.
In the spring of 1993, the CIF, in advance of the National Federation of State High School Athletic Assns.’ sport-specific rulings on blood-borne pathogens (pathogen: any microorganism or virus that can cause disease), adopted the Universal Disease Precautions as well as proposed sport-specific rules, which contained instructions for dealing with players who are bleeding during competition. The CIF adoptions were in response to the remote, but possible, risk of one athlete infecting another with HIV/AIDS or other blood-borne infectious diseases.
There is no question in my mind that these precautions are rules that need to be followed. This is a “forever” chance we are risking and the CIF’s response has been direct and unequivocal. When it is detected that a player is bleeding or has an open, uncovered wound, or blood on the uniform, the game shall be stopped and the player shall receive appropriate and proper treatment.
Although the chance of transmitting the HIV virus from one student/athlete to another is believed to be infinitesimal, the fact that the disease is deadly and incurable makes it a chance few would wish to take. Some people do take chances with rules and regulations where they believe there is a percentage in favor of getting away with it, but HIV/AIDS just isn’t one of them.
Are we at CIF over-reacting? No, the CIF, like most educational and sports organizations is committed to the use of universal health-care precautions when an injury involving bleeding occurs. From the pros to the high schools, administrators, coaches, trainers and sideline doctors have received directions on the importance of safely treating a bleeding athlete.
Raising awareness about blood-borne pathogens with parents, spectators and student/athletes will have a positive effect. We hope the rules on Communicable Disease Precautions will get the attention of those on the field of play and that they will transfer that attention to what they do off the field, where the risk becomes far greater.