Though it took a while for the NFL to wake up to the problem of concussions in football, the giant has emerged from his slumber, he’s had his coffee, and he’s chased it with a six-pack of Red Bull.
Last week, Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to the governors of 44 states that have not yet passed a law that prevent youth athletes with concussions from being prematurely permitted to return to action. In the letter, Goodell urges the governors to “support legislation that would better protect your state’s young athletes by mandating a more formal and aggressive approach to treatment of concussions.”
Goodell’s letter cites the Lystedt Law, which was adopted by Washington in 2009 after 13-year-old Zackery Lystedt was permitted to play in a game after suffering a concussion. He then suffered life-threatening injuries, which ultimately turned out to be life-altering.
Goodell’s letter points out that the Lystedt Law has three key elements: (1) athletes, parents, and coaches must be educated about the dangers of concussions each year; (2) if a young athlete is suspected of having a concussion, he or she must be removed from a game or practice and not permitted to return; and (3) a licensed health care professional must clear the young athlete to return to play in subsequent days or weeks.
We’re in the process of getting a list of the 44 states who have yet to pass such a law (Alabama is one of them), and we’ll be asking PFT Planet to contact their local representatives in the hopes of helping push this law through in every state — and more importantly to help ensure that all youth coaches recognize the potential significance of what was once (and still is) brushed off as a “bell ringing.”