Pennsylvania State Representative Tim Briggs has been a clear advocate and vocal outlet for concussion education and awareness, dating back to the immediate commencement of his political career serving the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, PA. His efforts in putting forth such recognized information have been honorable, and he has gathered the support of many other such legislators to collectively put forth a piece of legislation that would be serve the interests and measures of protection of our student athletes. What was originally put forth in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, known as House Bill (H.B.) 2060, has evolved into a processed bill that is just one step away from being put into action.
In 2010, I worked alongside Briggs, and others, in generating public support and advocacy of H.B. 2060, and did so by appearing in interviews on several news outlets in the Philadelphia area, as well as speaking at a press conference at Lincoln Financial Field– home of the Philadelphia Eagles. At the time, the bill was in it’s youthful state, and was merely a proposed piece of legislation that had yet to reach levels of proper support and political molding. But by seeing what sorts of reactions came about by working with Briggs, and Tracy Yatsko (amongst others), I saw the potential for this piece of legislation, and clearly remained a strong, and proud, supporter all throughout its existence in the House.
H.B. 2060 was passed by the House in September of 2010, and moved on to the Senate to become Senate Bill (S.B.) 200. SB 200 has been largely applauded throughout the Commonwealth as well as across the nation, for it is considered to be one of the strongest, more detailed works of legislation we have seen regarding the treatment of sport-related head trauma in youth sports. It has received the support and acknowledgement of highly acclaimed, world-renown neurologists such as Dr. Julian Bailes of West Virginia, and Dr. Micky Collins of UPMC (Pittsburgh). The following will address the key points of SB 200: Continue reading
Last June, I had the pleasure of speaking at a press conference at Lincoln Financial Field in support of Pennsylvania State Representative Tim Briggs’ proposed concussion management legislation. I was an eighteen-year old who had been researching concussions in sports for nearly ten months at that point—a task that I engaged in to further educate myself and others on the subject at hand; a project that would essentially close many doors in my past that had been left open for too long. But as I situated myself beside the podium at this press conference, I had no idea what kind of story the young woman sitting to my left had to say. Of course, throughout my research, I understood that others have been through worse—much worse—than what I had experienced, but never did I think I would meet someone I could relate to. It was even more than just relating to, for this individual shared a heartbreaking story to the public. She was at the press conference for the same reason as myself, and that was to promote the need for concussion legislation in our state, but she did more than that. Her words were more than the cover to a bill. Her words were the voice of the sports concussion crisis.
Today, Tracy Yatsko, a twenty-three-year old woman from Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, is still fighting the repercussions of an injury that ended her high school athletic career. Six years removed from the moment of her last concussion, Yatsko represents the qualities of strength and motivation, for her battle has not been one that has been easy. Sure, I have heard of stories in which athletes have sustained decisively fatal blows to the head. But when I talk to this woman, and when I think about her story, the only words that I can describe how I have perceived her story is hell on earth. Why did this situation in which Yatsko found herself within come to be?
2005 was a year, with regards to concussion awareness, that was still present in the sports’ ‘Era of Good Feelings.’ There was not much to worry about, and though there were stories creeping out of the media regarding concussions in football, there was not much of a worry in other athletic activities. There really wasn’t much consideration as to what a concussion was. It was merely an injury that was ignorantly summarized as a headache; a distraction; a joke. And with such stigma comes tides of the familiar phrase that claims pain to be weakness leaving the body. Only did we, or rather, do we, come to open our eyes to what a concussion is until the moment of a tragedy personally affects ourselves or those who we consider to be close to us. Continue reading
Pennsylvania State Representative Tim Briggs has had a concussion management bill in the makings for about a year now, as it has recently picked up some momentum in calling attention upon it to raise support for this individual piece of legislation. This bill, aimed towards protecting the athletes of youth sports programs, will hold several requirements that consist of educative measures, as well as specific management guidelines requiring definite steps to be followed during the return-to-play process, such as the signature of an outside medical professional in order to present a sort of buffer between the school’s resources and those of a trained neurologist or clinician.
After being asked to assist in the supporting of what was House Bill 2060, I quickly realized that Briggs and his staff were tremendously devoted towards having this proposed legislation passed in the Pennsylvania Senate, as it has already been approved in the House of Representatives several months ago in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The dedication of Briggs and his staff has been truly admirable, as they have taken on something that has been a clear issue in contact sports programs throughout the nation. At a press conference at Lincoln Financial Field last June, I spoke in support of this piece of legislation.
This bill that Mr. Briggs has proposed in Harrisburg is largely an essential step in the right direction in regards to protecting our student athletes. With the nature of high school football and the overall outlook on injuries in the game, not every will embrace it immediately, but over time I believe that it will save lives and be a tremendous safeguard towards ensuring the health of the participants in contact sports. It will hold a standard of liability to those in positions of authority and will promote the education of the risks of repetitive head injuries, enforcing smart and safe decisions while emphasizing that it is better to miss one game, rather than an entire season.
Such legislation is key towards sending contact sports an important message that will one day remove the idea that concussions are a sign of weakness and lack of integrity in an athlete. Through the efforts of education and workings of research relating to this topic, concussions will be treated as a brain injury, rather than a joke or insignificant mark that can ignorantly be summarized as a headache. The passing of this bill is a necessity. I would give anything to go back and be able to play football again, Continue reading