Tag Archives: state
Concussion lawsuits are typically high-profile, messy matters, where every ebb and flow of the litigation is splashed across the sports page.
Then you have the lawsuit filed recently in Louisiana against a Baton Rouge high school and its very successful head football coach.
The litigation has not made the papers. But it should.
The father alleged that after his son suffered a concussion that the coach rushed him back to football practice too soon, going so far as to “request” that the trainer “immediately release (him) to begin football practice.” The plaintiff claimed that his son was cleared at the coach’s “insistence and without performing any evaluation.” This, the plaintiff alleged, ran counter to La. R.S. 40:1299.182, the Louisiana Youth Concussion Act (Act).
On May 7, 2014, the player did return to football practice and shortly thereafter was allegedly ordered to perform “head roll drills down the length of the football field” as “punishment.” Midway through the drill, he allegedly advised the coaches that “he was unable to complete the drill because of his prior concussion and that he was also dehydrated due to a lack of fluid provided during practice.” Nevertheless, he was allegedly ordered to continue to drill or he would be removed from the team. He resumed the drill, but begin experiencing dizziness, nausea, and a partial loss of consciousness. The plaintiff claimed that “no evaluation or medical intervention of any kind” was offered to his son.
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Fifteen months after the Sports Legacy Institute (SLI)—a Boston-based non-profit organization founded to advance the study, treatment, and prevention of brain trauma in athletes and other at-risk groups—began advocating nationally, and specifically in Illinois, for limits to off-season high school football practice, the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) held a special vote and passed a bylaw modification that eliminates full-contact football activities in the summer.
The announcement of this bylaw late last monthserves as the first victory in SLI’s campaign to provide high school football players the same protections as professional football players. As advisors to the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), SLI co-founders Dr. Robert Cantu and Chris Nowinski campaigned for limits in full-contact practice in the NFL, and the NFLPA successfully negotiated to eliminate off-season contact practice and allow only 14 days of full-contact during the 18 week season.
“A football player’s risk of concussion and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease that can lead to dementia, appears to be correlated to their lifetime brain trauma. NFL players recognized that and fought for limits. Since high school football players can’t negotiate like NFL players, we chose to fight for them,” said SLI executive director Chris Nowinski, a former All-Ivy defensive tackle at Harvard University.
“There is no evidence at this time that limiting full-contact practice increases the risk of any other injury – or even lowers the quality of play. We hope other states, as well as youth programs, follow suit and set rational limits to brain trauma for youth and high school football players,” said Dr. Cantu, SLI medical director and a clinical professor of neurosurgery at Boston University School of Medicine.
SLI announced the initiative to target the 29 states still allowing off-season full-contact high school football at the 2013 Super Bowl and immediately began campaigning in Illinois, as IHSA rules allowed more days of full-contact off-season football than any other state, with 20.
“We believe this revision minimizes risk to football student-athletes, while allowing for the teaching of appropriate fundamentals,” said IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman in an announcement issued by the IHSA. “This is another important step in making high school football as safe as possible, while putting all of our schools on an even playing field regarding football activities during the summer.”
While Illinois is the first state to revise their off-season contact bylaw, six states have responded to SLI’s separate call to set limits to in-season full-contact practices: Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, and Texas. SLI also consulted with The Ivy League on their practice limits announced in 2012.
Illinois State Rep. Carol Sente introduced a piece of legislation, House Bill 5431, to the state education committee last week that would require all athletic directors, high school coaches and assistant coaches to complete an online concussion certification program.
The measure would apply not only to football, but other high school sports, such as volleyball, soccer and cheerleading.
Sente has been an activist on the front, trying unsuccessfully last year to reduce practices in pads to two times a week.
“I still want to see some changes with how practice happens and (the IHSA) knows that,” Sente told the media. “(Change) has come a little slower than I wanted, but I’m watching. They know that if their group doesn’t do it quick enough via the by-laws, that I’m back there watching them and needling them.
“I think we’ll get there, but this is an evolution and I think you’re going to see more of it. It’s not over.”