Citing concerns about risks, several groups have banded together to urge California Governor Jerry Brown to join the other 49 states in the nation that regulate the athletic training profession.

The groups—which include the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)—cite the serious risks posed to athletes, athletic trainers, and their employers due to athletic trainers’ lack of licensure in California.

“An increasing number of states have made it illegal for an unregulated athletic trainer to practice for any period of time within the state,” state the NCAA and others, according to a media release from the California Athletic Trainers’ Association (CATA). As a result, the release adds, athletic trainers who treat their athletes while in those states, as well as their employers, expose themselves to legal and financial consequences because they’re practicing outside the law.

Since California is the only state in the nation that doesn’t regulate the athletic training profession and require licensure, anyone in California can call oneself an athletic trainer without the proper education, the advocacy groups warn.

“Unfortunately, California athletes and family members are often unaware of individuals representing themselves as ‘athletic trainers’ without the requisite education. These individuals are managing serious injuries such as concussions, which can lead to negative consequences. Without a licensure system, there is no avenue for keeping these individuals from calling themselves athletic trainers,” says Dr Cindy Chang, a sports medicine physician from University of California – San Francisco and past president of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine.

Mike Chisar, chair of the CATA Governmental Affairs Committee, further highlights the risks involved, per the release: “Athletic trainers in California do not have a state-sanctioned scope of practice. Every day this places athletes in harm’s way and athletic trainers and their employers, including taxpayer-supported institutions, in a legal grey area.”

The CATA notes in the release that it hopes to work with Gov Brown to pass legislation that would outline the requirements to become an athletic trainer and define the scope of practice for the profession that is consistent with 49 other states that have already passed legislation.

Additional groups and individuals that are supporting this goal include the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), CIF section commissioners, athletic trainers for major professional teams and Division I colleges, and leading sports medicine experts, the release states.

[Source: California Athletic Trainers’ Association]