Legislation Regarding Contact Practices in Football
February 11, 2013
The continued attack on football with regards to concussions is once again taking shape in our nation’s legislative bodies. In recent weeks, there have been a few states who have had bills introduced that would limit contact in football practices at the high school. Illinois and Texas are two states who have proposed such laws.
Representative Eddie Lucio filed one such bill in the state of Texas last week. He believes high school and middle school teams should be limited to one contact practice per week. Citing what are known as “subconcussive impacts” Lucio believes this bill is needed to protect the student-athletes from the cumulative effects of such blows. While Texas has a concussion law on the books, he believes this bill would complement it by being a preventative measure that is currently lacking.
In Illinois Carol Sente has introduced legislation that would also limit contact to one practice per week at the high school and middle school levels. But she isn’t sure that’s enough. She said she introduced the bill to stem conversation and she recognizes this probably is not the end-all solution. Sente has scheduled a community forum tonight, February 11, in her district to get input.
The Ivy League and the National Football League have already implemented contact restrictions for its players. In the NFL, teams are limited to just 14 contact practices over the course of the season. Pop Warner football has also taken steps to limit contact in practices.
Dustin Fink, an athletic trainer and blogger at The Concussion Blog, wrote a letter to the Illinois High School Association executive director Marty Hickman a year ago proposing similar action. Hickman’s response basically said that anything of the sort would have to come from the IHSA membership. And from what I’ve seen, such action has not surfaced since. You can read his open letter here.
It was my experience this year that many of the concussions I have evaluating were coming from those who were playing multiple games in a week. That concerns me and leads to think that Dustin’s proposal is probably on the right track. We must be advocates for the student-athletes at the high school and lower levels. Their safety must be the priority at all times.