Participation in scholastic sports can be great for students, making a positive impact on their school careers both on the field and in the classroom. Sports can keep athletes physically fit, help develop confidence and assist students with making friends. However, as with all physical activities, safety must be made a priority by athletes, their parents and their coaches. Brainline, an organization offering information about brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, estimates that as many as 3.8 million concussions occur during competitive sports and recreational activities each year in the United States. Experts suggest that around 50 percent of concussions may go unreported. Although sports injuries rarely lead to fatalities, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons says the leading cause of death from sports-related injuries is traumatic brain injuries among children and adolescents. A traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts normal function of the brain, offers AANS. A concussion is a type of TBI in which the head and brain move back and forth from a blow, bump or jump. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that children and teens make up 70 percent of all sports-related concussions treated in emergency rooms. Concussions can occur in any sports, but are prevalent in cycling, football, hockey, rugby, soccer, and basketball, according to data published in 2013 in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine. Concussions also can occur in the sport of cheerleading, which has changed dramatically in the last 20 years as participants perform increasingly difficult acrobatic stunts. Preventing traumatic brain injuries involves diligence on the part of parents, student-athletes and coaches. The AANS says helmets reduce the risk of head injury by at least 45 percent and brain injury by 33 percent. Wearing safety gear while participating in sports is essential. Sports teams can focus on safety through hard work and dedication rather than a win at all costs mentality that may entice players to take risks that lead to injury. Rules should be enforced, especially those for fair play and safety. Striking other athletes in the head or using their head or helmet to contact another athlete, or other illegal contacts, should result in reprimands. Students should recognize their skill sets and not try dangerous moves that can put their health at risk. Athletes can consult with coaches to learn maneuvers and strategies that can reduce risk for injury, such as safe tackling techniques and using spotters when strength training. Should a head injury occur, athletes should not return to play until they have been evaluated and cleared by a health professional. It is better to be out one game than risk permanent injury.