Tag Archives: high school sports

Tougher concussion rules from high school assn.

The National Federation of State High School Associations has released tougher rules about removing players with potential concussions from the field. The initial release outlines the changes:


Photo by Les_Stockton via Flickr

The previous rule directed officials to remove an athlete from play if “unconscious or apparently unconscious.” The previous rule also allowed for return to play based on written authorization by a medical doctor. Now, officials are charged with removing any player who shows signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with a concussion, such as loss of consciousness, headache, dizziness, confusion or balance problems, and shall not return to play until cleared by an appropriate health-care professional.

The Tampa Tribune‘s Mary Shedden and Katherine Smith reported on how the change would affect Florida high school football and on how implementations of the new rule vary from district to district.

Language in the new rule is vague, stating a player can’t return until cleared by a “health-care representative.” In Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, players will need a doctor’s clearance, but Pasco officials may interpret the rule to include medical officials who were at the game, said Phil Bell, Pasco’s supervisor of athletic programs and facilities.

The best-known guidelines for returning to the game come from a sports medicine expert consortium in Zurich. It recommends athletes gradually return to activities, from light aerobic activity to noncontact drills to game day. Each step takes a minimum of 24 hours, and if symptoms return, an athlete must revert to the previous step.

Texas, Oregon and Washington have state laws mandating when players should be taken off the field; many other states rely on their athletic associations to format such rules. With the school year and football season getting under way, this would be a good time for reporters to check on the policies at local schools. Read more about concussions, including some recent reports and Congressional testimony.

Attention focuses on football’s neurological effects

Friday Night Lights author Buzz Bissinger, writing in Time, looks at two things he claims are being overlooked during the most recent uproar over football injuries: High school athletes and spinal injuries. Bissinger has strong opinions and two anecdotes, one of which includes a source who said that roughly two Texas high school football players suffer catastrophic spinal injuries each year.

Photo by julio cesar via Flickr.

Bissinger praises Alan Schwarz’ work on concussions at The New York Times, but openly doubts whether the advances Schwarz is helping force at the professional level will ever translate to high school.

I know the focus will not trickle down to where it is needed most: the high school level. Research has shown that young players are far more susceptible than older ones to serious injuries. …

There should be an ambulance at every high school game. There should be trainers. But don’t bet on it, as school districts cry a lack of money. Kids will continue to suffer serious head injuries. Kids will continue to become paralyzed because they never learned how to properly tackle, with their heads up. The game’s violence will continue because that’s exactly why we like it, our gladiatorial lust still intact 16 centuries after the Romans. The bigger the hit, the greater the roar.

Not a new concern

In an Op-Ed piece in The New York Times, Deborah Blum, a professor of science journalism at the University of Wisconsin, writes about a warning published in The Journal of the American Medical Association that said the medical profession can no longer ignore that “There is a very definite brain injury due to single or repeated blows on the head or jaw which cause multiple concussion hemorrhages” in a report about professional athletes.”

But what really makes the research and its conclusions so interesting is its timing: it appeared in The Journal of the American Medical Association on Oct. 13, 1928. This raises the question – at least for me – as to why we are announcing the athlete concussion-dementia link as a new, and still somewhat debatable, issue some 80 years later.

House Judiciary forum

Watch a video webcast of the Feb. 1 “House Judiciary Committee Forum on Head Injuries and Other Sports Injuries in Youth, High School, College and Professional Football,” or read about Republican’s reluctance to hold said forum in Houston.

Dan Rather report

Dan Rather’s latest investigative effort was a far-reaching look at concussions and football, with emphasis on both the high school and professional games. He frames it as part of the pre-Super Bowl concussion awareness push (PDF Transcript).

ESPN to air ‘Head Games’

ESPN reporter Greg Garber, on “Outside the Lines,” will look at the issue of concussions and the NFL at 8 a.m. ET on Sunday. Harold Donald Carson, a former linebacker and inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, “has become one of the leading spokesmen for the NFL’s retired players. Passionate and eloquent, he is in some ways the league’s conscience on the subject.”

Carson, who played 13 seasons for the New York Giants, estimates he suffered about a dozen concussions during his career, but none of them were documented. While he believes concussions among former football players will escalate into an epidemic, Dr. Joseph Maroon, the Steelers’ neurosurgeon for nearly three decades and a member of the NFL’s concussion committee for the past three years, disputes that:

“Because we know that there are millions of high school kids, college kids, youth leagues, as well as other who play football annually, I think we are not seeing the epidemic at that level people are speculating about,” Maroon said.


NCAA doesn’t monitor painkiller use

Gene Sapakoff of the Charleston, S.C. Post and Courier reports that while the NCAA and the Atlantic Coast Conference went to the mat this summer over bagel quality in relation to an “ACC rules proposal seeking to specify ‘that an institution may provide fruit, nuts and bagels to student-athletes at any time,'” collegiate sports’ governing body doesn’t have any system in place to track or regulate the injections and painkillers given on a regular basis to many student-athletes.


Photo by Monica’s Dad via Flickr

…the NCAA wouldn’t know if a South Carolina or Clemson player received one Toradol shot or 30 last week, or if a given school under its wide jurisdiction was refilling infamously addictive OxyContin and Vicodin prescriptions by the shovelful.

“The NCAA does not monitor that from a national standpoint,” said Mary Wilfert, the NCAA’s Associate Director of Health and Safety. “That is left to the institutions and also left to those professional and legal and ethical regulatory bodies that folks in those fields operate under.”

The NCAA sources Sapakoff consulted said that monitoring painkillers and other drugs given to student-athletes, while a good idea, would be a “gargantuan task” beyond the association’s resources.

“Just way too much to try and get a handle on. Simple as that, unfortunately,” said an NCAA official, requesting anonymity. “We just don’t have the staff as it is.”

Sapakoff’s series on painkillers in football also looked at high schools and the NFL.