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House Delegates Turn Down Virginia Concussion Bill

(Youth1 Football) - Each year, more tragic stories emerge of young athletes, especially football players, sustaining concussions that alter their lives. The tide across professional sports has shifted to prevent such injuries.

In 2012, the NFL expanded its rule on helmet-to-helmet hits, preventing any defenseless player from being hit above the shoulders. No player is prohibited to launch themself off the ground and use their helmet to strike another player in the head or neck when he is in a defenseless or vulnerable position. Punishments for such violations can result in fines and suspensions.

Last month the Ohio Senate passed a Concussion Bill, aimed at keeping athletes safer to hopefully prevent serious injuries. "House Bill 143" requires that a young athlete who exhibits concussion symptoms immediately be pulled from a game. That player then can't return until cleared by a doctor. In addition, the bill requires that steps be taken to educate parents, youth coaches, and officials about symptoms and treatment.

With Ohio taking the initiative with the bill, there was hope that many other states would follow in their footsteps, but such was not the case in Virginia. Last week a bill designed to lessen the impact of concussions on young athletes was struck down by the House of Representatives.

The Virginia delegates stopped the legislation that would have required any youth sports league that uses public school property for games or practice, to set up policies and procedures about how they will handle head injuries. The Associated Press reported that the opponents in the Virginia House of Representatives shot this down because they were w
orried that if this bill became a law, volunteer coaches would be liable when players suffered head injuries.  

Mr. Eric Hunter, who is an athletic director in the Virginia American Youth Football League, was very disappointed with the outcome. “We at VAYFL, and Chesterfield Metro Youth Football League (CMYFL), are disappointed the bill did not pass,” said Hunter. “We feel the current legislation in Virginia, which only applies to High School players, misses an extremely large demographic of student athletes in the Commonwealth. This Bill would have brought an additional level of safety oversight to youth athletics.”

According to a 2011 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, emergency department visits for sports and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, rose a staggering 60 percent among children and adolescents in the past decade. With those numbers, it makes you wonder why Virginia would turn down the bill. “It seems like every year you hear more and more stories of young players getting concussions, and the long-term effects it can have on your body,” said Virginia youth football coach Todd Jones. “We want our players to be as safe as they can, and this bill would have been a step in the right direction.”

One of the biggest problems on the field, is that players don't always realize when they have concussed, and continue playing when they shouldn't. Many players feel they can "tough it out" and say they're fine, rather than sit out any plays. This is a dangerous decision, and sometimes fatal, as a second concussion sustained in rapid succession could lead the brain to swell, and possibly cause death.

Even without the bill in place, coaches still have to be aware of concussion symptoms and take the necessary precautions to keep their players safe. Coach Hunter and his staff aren’t taking any chances. The following is a quote from Coach Hunter:

“We have worked tirelessly to push a “safety first” message to all coaches, players, and parents. VAYFL\CMYFL have been focused on concussion awareness, prevention, and after care for the past four years. We adopted the “7 Day –Return to play” policy for all players suspected of a concussion. Simply spelled out, a player cannot return to play until they are symptom free for seven days and cleared by a doctor. Each VAYFL\CMYFL team is required to have at least one coach with CPR\First Aid Certifications. We also have the SCORE and PAR Concussion assessment software on 4G iPad at our home fields each week.”
 

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About the Writer

Chris Costa
A graduate from the University of William Paterson, Chris Costa combines his passion for sports and football with his abilities as a writer to give outstanding youth players the attention and exposure they deserve. A lifelong fan of the sport and a student of the game, Costa is one of the head football writers for the Youth1 team and has a knack for scouting football talent.  Please share your questions, comments or stories with Chris at ccosta@youth1.com or call 973-885-4692.
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