Over two years ago I sent an open letter and proposals to the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) regarding hit limits in football. Some took this as a “candy ass” approach and one that was not needed. I disagreed with that assessment, in fact, I felt that what I wrote at the time was proactive and could be a way for this state to be a leader in the area of protection in concussions;
I am writing this letter to address the growing concern of concussions in sports, mainly in football. It should be noted that football is not the only sport with a concussion issue; however this sport combines the highest participation, highest risk, and highest visibility. This letter should not be construed as an attack on the sport of football, but rather a way to keep the sport continuing to grow.[…]
Recent evidence suggests that even the subconcussive hits – those that effectively “rattle” the brain but do not produce signs or symptoms – become problematic as the season wears on, let alone a career. As the researchers in this field gain focus and more specific diagnostic tools, I feel we will see damning evidence that will put collision sports in jeopardy as they are currently constructed – the key being “as they are currently”. There can be a change, both positive and proactive, that will signal to everyone that the IHSA is taking this matter seriously and can set a nationwide standard.
Needless to say it was brushed aside and was ignored, except for a kind email saying things were happening behind the scenes. Now, two years and one month later there could be a 12th – TWELVE – states that have contact limits in place for high school football; as Arkansas looks into the matter;
According to reports, the Arkansas Activities Association has passed a recommendation to ask school superintendents to cut full contact practice time to just three times during game weeks. With one of those being the game itself, it leaves just two days of tackling if the proposal passes.
Jason Cates is the lead trainer for Cabot High School, and the former President of the Arkansas Athletic Trainers’ Association, he says, “Something has to be done.”
“The more studies that are showing that hit counts do count and add up.”
The Arkansas proposal limits the full contact days to three, opposed to the two I proposed, but it seems to me that others have seen the light. That light is both the end of the tunnel and the oncoming freight train. Kids need to play sports and high school kids should have the option of football, full tackle football! However, we need to be smart about it, or else it will be stripped from us.
There are things we can do to show we are trying and attempting to keep KIDS as safe as possible with what we know. Baseline tests just aren’t enough anymore – heck the validity and viability of them are in question – yet it is necessary for at least the education of those playing sports. There are only so many band aids we can put on a gaping wound before we need to do more.
In my tradition of providing solutions along with the complaints I give you the above letter and proposals (first link in this post). It could be as simple – granted expensive – as getting a full-time athletic trainer in place at schools. I truly do feel that if you don’t have an athletic trainer you should not be having collision sports or practices in which full collisions occur. Remember this reasoning is not just for concussions – although important this day and age – it is for all injuries and illness that occur; notably the emergent problems of: heat illness, cardiac issues, and catastrophic injuries.
I applaud the states and organizations looking into this route of limiting exposure, I really wish many more would explore this option.
We know that sports like soccer actually have a higher rate of concussion-related injuries. It is hard to anticipate the health effects of hit count limits. The Institute of Medicine and National Research Council recently issued a report on sports-related concussions in young athletes. The study received attention primarily for establishing that high school football players are suffering concussion more when compared to college players.