Why Your Child Should Visit Their Primary Care Provider for a Sports Physical

If your child or teen wants to participate in school athletics, in the state of Ohio they are required to complete a sports physical each year of sports participation. A sports physical isn’t just a piece of paper the doctor signs so your child can participate in sports; it’s a screening tool that helps ensure that your young athlete is healthy and physically able to participate in their chosen sport. This screening also helps reduce the risk of injuries and may catch other health problems that need attention.

While some schools offer this at a free or discounted rate for athletes, these may not as comprehensive as one performed by an athlete’s primary care provider – someone who knows the individual and their medical history. By combining your sports physical with your annual wellness visit you are able to get a more thorough exam, and for those with health insurance, many plans will cover the cost of a sports physical.1

“As an Athletic Director and most importantly to me, as a parent, I know the importance of your children getting physicals completed on a regular basis,” stated Eric Goodwin, Coldwater Athletic Director. “Coldwater eliminated ‘mass physicals’ during Covid and has not brought them back. Our doctors that worked these are wonderful and extremely good when working with these large groups, however, there is nothing better than seeing your own family doctor for a complete and thorough physical exam for your child.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends sports physicals in conjunction with a comprehensive annual wellness exam by the primary care provider for several reasons:

  • A comprehensive exam by a provider who knows the athlete personally and who has access to the athlete’s complete medical record, makes unnecessary restriction from sports less likely.
  • The office setting provides a quiet environment which makes it easier to perform an accurate physical exam and provides more privacy for the athlete.
  • Sports physicals provided by the athlete’s own provider allows for more time to discuss confidential health issues and makes it easier to coordinate care with consultants as needed for any follow-up evaluation.
  • A comprehensive exam safeguards an athlete’s health by establishing documented baselines and identifying and addressing potential concerns; also helpful should the athlete start new symptoms or have an injury throughout the season.

“My daughter, Carlee, is a perfect example,” Goodwin continues. “She saw her family physician for her yearly sports physical a couple years ago. The doctor asked her if she was worried about anything and Carlee said she was having some issues. After a referral, she ended up having heart surgery which may have saved her life. I’m not saying this would not have been discovered in a mass physical, but I’m not sure Carlee would have felt comfortable enough to speak up about it.”

Goodwin’s brings up a valid point that often young athletes may be “afraid to speak up” to their primary care provider, parent or coach for fear of being put on the injured list or unable to play. Carlee went on to earn All-State honors in both swimming and track following her heart surgery.

“Luckily for Carlee, she felt comfortable to share any issues with the doctor,” Goodwin adds. “Please make sure your children do so also. It could save their life.”

Schedule your child’s sport physical today.

Mercer Health Medical Group primary care providers are now accepting appointments for sports physicals for the 2024-2025 school year. Call your primary care provider now to schedule your student athlete’s physical to ensure you are able to acquire an appointment before the school deadline.

If your child does not have an established primary care provider, contact 567-890-MHMD(6463) to schedule with a provider accepting new patients.

Learn more about our primary care team at https://mercer-health.com/our-services/primary-care/.

  1. Note, the amount covered for a sports physical through your health insurance may depend on the type and level of coverage as well as any deductibles that need to be met before benefits are applied. ↩︎