Many states have enacted new laws during the last two years to educate constituents, including parents and coaches, and/or to regulate how head injuries are handled at the time of injury and/or in after-care, including return-to-play mandates. Some of the laws address schools alone; in other states, the laws address both schools and nonschool sports.
This nationwide campaign has stalled in Michigan, in part because of the state’s Constitutional ban on unfunded mandates and in part because we’ve got schools covered and don’t need a law. If a school returns a concussed athlete to play without an MD or DO’s written authorization, that school has used an ineligible athlete and the result of the contest is a forfeit. We’ve got a rule; and it’s got teeth.
It is in less well-regulated nonschool youth sports programs where deficiencies may persist in return-to-play policies. And, it’s in education – including players, parents and coaches – where everybody, including schools, could do more.
As for educational efforts in schools, here’s just a portion of what’s already been done this fall alone:
The legislation that has been introduced in the Michigan Legislature (HB 4396) would require public schools to develop and disseminate information on head injuries to coaches, athletes and parents, and to withhold from competition any student who’s had a head injury until there’s written clearance from a health care provider. The bill doesn’t define its terms well and doesn’t require anything of nonpublic schools or nonschool sports groups. In its present form, we are opposing the bill. On this matter, schools are taking care of their own business.