Tag Archives: association

IHSA Launches Play Smart. Play Hard. Campaign to Enhance Student-Athlete Safety

The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) has announced the launch of the Play Smart. Play Hard. campaign focused on “furthering the IHSA’s commitment to enhancing the safety of Illinois’ student-athletes and collaborating with others who share that mission. The campaign will focus on educating and equipping athletes, parents, coaches and schools on ways to better safeguard the health and welfare of student-athletes, including minimizing the risk of head injuries.”

Marty Hickman, Executive Director of the IHSA, said: “Player safety is the IHSA’s top priority, and we are thrilled to announce the launch of the Play Smart. Play Hard. campaign. The IHSA firmly believes that high school athletics bring tremendous value to student-athletes, including lifelong lessons in hard work, perseverance and teamwork, but we also recognize there is an element of risk in athletics. Play Smart. Play Hard. represents the IHSA’s latest step in our ongoing commitment to enhancing the safety of student-athletes while they continue playing the sports we all love.”

As part of the campaign, the IHSA is implementing several new initiatives focused on “enhancing student-athlete safety that build on existing programs. These include:

“Launching the Illinois Advisory Council on Player Safety to facilitate open and transparent dialogue around head injuries and other player safety issues, review the IHSA’s current programs and offer new recommendations to ensure the IHSA remains a leader in student-athlete safety standards and protocols.”

The Council is comprised of the following individuals:

o   Tregg Duerson, former Loyola Academy and University of Notre Dame football player and son of deceased NFL veteran, Dave Duerson

o   Napoleon Harris, Illinois State Senator and former NFL linebacker

o   Tory Lindley, Associate Athletic Director and Head Athletic Trainer at Northwestern University

o   Dustin Fink, certified athletic trainer and author of The Concussion Blog

o   Sara Flanigan, co-founder and current president of the Illinois Spirit Officials Association, and a mother of two young athletes

o   Dennis Piron, Batavia High School Football and Track & Field Coach who coached son throughout his high school football career

o   Allison Hieb, junior soccer player at Normal Community West High School

o   Cole Steward, three-sport sophomore at Salem High School

“I commend the IHSA for taking such a strong step forward as part of its ongoing player safety efforts,” said Duerson, who played football in college and high school in Illinois and is the son of deceased NFL veteran Dave Duerson, who suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). “Coming from a football family who knows first-hand both the risks and rewards of playing the sports we love, I’m committed to continuing to honor my father’s legacy by working with the IHSA, student-athletes, coaches, parents and schools in Illinois to better protect all of our athletes.”

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Concussion Lawsuit against IHSA Could Open Floodgates

(Editor’s Note: What follows is an excerpt from the December issue of Concussion Litigation Reporter)

Time will tell whether a class action lawsuit filed earlier this month by a former high school quarterback against the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) will be the first of many copycat lawsuits around the country.

The plaintiff in the case is Daniel Bukal, who was a star quarterback at Notre Dame College Prep in Niles, Ill. from 1999 to 2003. The plaintiff, who never played college football, alleged in the lawsuit that the “criteria” for returning him to the playing field “was not uniform and followed no consistent, medical protocol that would ensure (that his) return to the field would be safe.” Because of this, he allegedly suffered multiple concussions, which have led to migraines and some memory loss.

Like many associations, the IHSA did not have concussion protocols in place at the time. This placed Bukal and other high school football players at risk, according to the lawsuit.

Bukal, who is represented by Chicago-based attorney Joseph Siprut, is asking the IHSA to tighten rules regarding head injuries and concussions, and include baseline testing and other initiatives. Siprut represented several former college athletes in the recent concussion lawsuit against the NCAA. That litigation was settled with the NCAA committing $70 million to a medical monitoring program to test athletes for traumatic brain injuries. The settlement, which is before a judge, is mired in some controversy about who the winner in the case is – the plaintiffs, their attorneys, or the NCAA.

Siprut told the media that he intends to file lawsuits against other state high school athletic associations. He has not targeted the National Federation of State High School Associations because it does not exert the same control over its members that the NCAA does.

As for the Illinois litigation, the class being specified includes every high school football player who participated for an IHSA member school from 2002 to the present.

Among some of the more unique aspects of the lawsuit …

(To read the rest of the story, subscribe to CLR here: https://concussionpolicyandthelaw.com/subscribe/)


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Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association Makes History By Endorsing Heads Up Football

The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) announced this week that it has officially endorsed USA Football’s Heads Up Football Program.

The MPSSAA represents 24 school systems comprised of 187 high schools. It becomes the first state high school athletic association to endorse Heads Up. The American College of Sports Medicine, National Athletic Trainers’ Association, National Federation of State High School Associations and more than two dozen other leading organizations have also endorsed the program.

The partnership will be officially announced during a press conference scheduled for next week at the Maryland State Department of Education.

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