Who determines if a player has suffered a concussion?
Who decides when a player is ready to return to the game?
In light of current pending Ohio legislation and the wording therein, this is of grave concern to a nonprofit association such as the Ohio Alliance of YMCAs since youth organizations of this nature rely heavily on volunteer coaches and referees.
The current wording in the bill stipulates that coaches or officials must remove an athlete from a game or practice if he or she has sustained a concussion or is thought to have one. Tied to this measure is the requirement that schools as well as youth organizations cannot allow people to perform coaching duties unless they have been trained in the recognition of brain and head injuries.
The alliance’s executive director, Beth Tsevtkoff, reported to an Ohio House health committee that maintaining records on concussions and the requirements to remove a player because of suspected signs of head injury just magnifies the legal liability for volunteers and non-school organizations.
Tsevtkoff further stated, “We understand that the coaches, the referees, and us as an organization should be responsible for our actions. We agree with that.”
One of the problems lies in the fact that referees and coaches can change from game to game, and keeping up with an injured child from a previous game can be very difficult to do. “It sets up an infrastructure where a volunteer parent who is a coach or a referee in a game is being held responsible for incidents they would have no idea of what happened,” she said.
The concussion training requirements as framed in the bill are supported by Tsvetkoff and theAlliance, but Tsvetkoff wants the lawmakers to delete the language that requires for a player to be removed from a game.
However, Rep. John Patrick Carney, D-Columbus was quick to reply, “If there is no attaching liability, ultimately, where’s the teeth? There is no teeth. You could have a coach knowingly send someone back into play who they think has a concussion and ultimately there’s no liability on the back end.”
The struggle revolves around how to shield everyone from every potential liability.
In view of these challenging circumstances, Tsvetkoff made it clear though that theAllianceis working diligently on changes in the language with lawmakers. “We think the bill is actually really great,” she said. “Hopefully, we can find that middle ground.”
Photo by Tim Hipps