Effectively managing on-field emergencies is the most important role of the doctor on the sidelines. Pre-event preparation is essential and should include a formulated plan for dealing with emergencies and access to emergency equipment such as a stretcher and a bag and mask. Game day injuries should be assessed by adhering as closely as possible to a normal clinical consultation, with a proper history and examination being performed for all injuries. The athlete with an on-field head injury should be treated as having a concomitant cervical spine injury until proven otherwise. Athletes with any symptoms after head injury should be comprehensively and continuously assessed. Return-to-play decisions are made by balancing the risk of injury recurrence, the potential severity of injury recurrence and the benefits of returning to the field (which are higher at elite than amateur level). There is currently a shortage of doctors willing to cover sports events in Australia, which is partially explained by inadequate remuneration, inadequate facilities provided at venues, inadequate training opportunities in sports medicine, and fear of the medicolegal consequences in taking on the role as a team doctor.