You might not be able to tell by looking at the headlines, but the push to protect athletes from traumatic brain injuries has made some huge progress over the past years. It just might not be where you’re looking.
Athletes are still suffering concussions on a daily basis across the nation, but school age athletes in every state are finally protected by some form of brain injury legislation intended to help slow the high rates of brain injury in sports and protect students from the increased risks associated with repeated concussions.
Mississippi became the last state to create rules governing youth sports when the governor signed their bill in January. The laws vary wildly across the country, but almost every law includes a measure to educate coaches and players about the signs of concussions and the ways to manage athletes who have suffered from one.
It is also common for these rules to require players to be pulled from competition when they are suspected of a brain injury. In many cases, players must be cleared before being allowed to return to play or practice.
Michigan is the only state to require student athletes to provide a head injury history at the start of each season, but South Carolina and Rhode Island encourage players submit to baseline testing.
There have been multiple attempts to bring about federal level concussion legislation. Notably, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell used the Super Bowl hype to help promote a federal bill intended to establish uniform training as well as providing grants to school to purchase safer equipment. So far no such bill has been passed.