Failure to Participate in Sports: An Evaluation of Preparticipation Physicals in a Local School District

Namita Bhardwaj, Grant S. Pierre, Alexandra P. Halloran, Taylor C. Alexander, Stacy H. Leung, Yu Lu, Kendall M. Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: To determine the incidence of the documentation of athlete failure of preparticipation sports physicals. Methods: This was a retrospective observational study that involved review of preparticipation examination physical form documentation from multiple clinicians for all student athletes who participated in athletics during the 2018 to 2019 academic year at Galveston Independent School District (GISD). We collected the reasons for failure to pass the preparticipation physical examination. Results: Of the approximately 800 student athlete forms reviewed, 183 forms indicated individual athletes failed the visual acuity or cardiovascular portions of the preparticipation physical examination. Discussion: Athlete failures of the preparticipation physical examination may cause delays in sports participation, and time and monetary costs to students and their parents. Inconsistences in guidelines used to clear athletes as well as variation in form completion impacts whether athletes reportedly failed or passed the examination. Mass participation screening becomes a safety net for communities for athletes who may not have primary care providers to encourage follow-up with a regular clinician for previously undiagnosed medical issues and standardizing guideline use and form completion across clinicians who do these exams may improve numbers of athletes who are cleared to play sports. Conclusion: Focusing on preventable and addressable preparticipation examination failures may help clinicians who perform these exams, while also establishing a safety net for previously undiagnosed medical conditions. Instituting yearly vision checks, addressing cardiovascular issues, and encouraging yearly follow-up with primary care clinicians can more readily address physical and mental health issues and will provide more comprehensive care to student athletes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1033-1037
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American Board of Family Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2024


  • Adolescence
  • Athletes
  • Community Medicine
  • Exercise
  • Preparticipation Physical Examination
  • Screening
  • Sports Medicine
  • Students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Family Practice


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