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PASSAGE of Senate Bill 0093 in the Indiana General Assembly is another sign that we are growing out of the “suck it up” mentality that some took as a rite of passage into adulthood but actually was a needless flirtation with danger.
The bill directly addressed growing concerns about the potential for life-threatening concussions or other forms of brain injury for student athletes in some organized sports.
The need for this kind of intervention was underlined last week by a new study published in Pediatrics magazine that reported an alarming number of deaths of high school football players from head and neck blows suffered after they had previously sustained concussions.
The study, which was based on statistics compiled for the National Registry of Sudden Death in Young Athletes, noted that of 1,827 of these fatalities, 14 percent were caused by trauma-related injuries.
Those chilling numbers were only an affirmation of concerns that physicians, football officials and parents throughout the country have been expressing for years.
Although trauma deaths are relatively uncommon in young players and deaths traced to cardiovascular issues are far more frequent, school administrators and coaches have been taking steps to reduce concussions on playing fields.
Even in professional and college ranks, there have been advancements in protective gear, and rules have been toughened against such illegal practices as “spearing” (tackling another player in a head-down charge).
Unfortunately, some coaches, players and even parents still fall back on the beliefs that playing under difficult circumstances (even illness or injury) is a sign of toughness that is to be admired.
The Indiana General Assembly has taken a step away from that attitude. Senate Bill 0093 requires schools to disseminate guidelines, information sheets and forms that would “inform and educate coaches, student athletes and parents of the nature and risk of concussions and head injuries.”
Athletes and their parents are required to return these signed forms to the appropriate coaches each year before beginning practice for a sport.
It is only one step, but it is important in that it indicates we have finally come to realize that some sports have a measure of violence and danger and that common sense must always trump a “play at any cost” attitude.
No game, no achievement is worth risking human lives, especially ones that have yet to be fully lived.
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