Truth in Legislation

January 31, 2013

Recently we learned that if President Obama had a son that he may consider not allowing him to play football. At the same time, an NFL player interviewed on ESPN for a segment on concussions stated that he believed that if things did not change that the NFL will not exist in 30 years.

States have enacted concussion legislation in an effort to protect youth sports participants with varying results and outcomes. These laws will continue to be important to legislators as they are working on addressing one of the major public concerns today. Just like gun laws are extremely popular right now after the Sandy Hook incident, concussion is in the headlines and will be on the plate of legislators desiring popularity points for taking on this important issue.

We could more accurately inform the public that “there is a moderate risk of chronic traumatic encephalapathy (CTE) as a result of repetitive brain injury or mild traumatic brain injury, not all resulting in symptoms. Some symptoms that may be experienced include…” Instead of the half-truth statements about just the immediate dangers (second-impact and long term post-concussion syndrome) why not be up front about the reality of the situation. The media is all over the research (http://www.bu.edu/today/head-trauma-and-athletes/) and rightly so.

Recently the NATA announced that a workgroup is formed to look into decreasing the helmet to crown contact with help needed in finding video footage of examples. Education of officials especially is needed for proper enforcement of the current rules, as we are not currently seeing the rules actually enforced well. Maybe we need more rules to minimize the risk for not only head injuries, but also neck injuries. The workgroup will investiage this and any help that you can provide should be directed to the workgroup.

I would like to urge any athletic trainer to introduce themself to their legislators’ office and help them to identify you as an expert who can inform them on athlete safety and adolescent health issues. They need to understand that not only are athletic trainers there, but that you are interested in helping them. They will appreciate it because they don’t know. They can’t understand the issue like you do. You are their lifeline on athlete safety issues. If they don’t know you exist then they will either be uninformed or misinformed.

Something needs to happen and we need to lead the charge. Will you be the running back or wide reciever with the ball or will you be on the sideline watching? Or will you try to play defense once the ball is in the air? We can’t afford to play off the ball if we do play defense as a profession. Let’s show the public and our legislators that we are going to carry them to victory by showing them the plan. Our state associations have the game plan and have each play written up. As a profession we are playing an important game to win.

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