Minutes From First Illinois Advisory Council on Player Safety

PSPHlogo“Welcome to a historic event.” Is how Associate Executive Director, Kurt Gibson opened the first meeting of its kind in Illinois and for the Illinois High School Association (IHSA). With the vast majority of the Council present it did not take long for all of us to get to “work”.

The Council (which we shortened to PSAC – Player Safety Advisory Council) dove right into the meat of the issues surrounding sports and player safety. Rather than giving a play-by-play I will let you read the minutes from the meeting (LINK HERE);



The Play Smart. Play Hard Player Safety Advisory Council met at the IHSA office in Bloomington, Illinois on Tuesday, June 9, 2015, beginning at 10:00 a.m. Committee members present were Dustin Fink, Sara Flanigan, Tory Lindley, Dennis Piron, and Cole Steward. Also in attendance were Associate Executive Director Kurt Gibson; Assistant Executive Director Matt Troha; and guest, Sports Medicine Advisory Committee member Greg Gaa. Not present were members Tregg Duerson, Senator Napoleon Harris, and Allison Hieb.


1. IHSA administrators Kurt Gibson and Matt Troha welcomed the council to the first meeting of the Play Smart. Play Hard Player Safety Advisory Council.

2. The council reviewed its purpose of monitoring current IHSA programs and initiatives, identifying new areas to advance player safety, and helping communicate the Play Smart. Play Hard vision.

3. The council reviewed the following materials from the IHSA’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC): ● minutes of the committee’s April 2015 meeting ● recommendations made by IHSA’s Football and SMAC regarding football contact ● Managing Heat/Humidity Policy recommendation The council’s feedback on the football contact and Heat Policy recommendations are listed below under items.

4. The council discussed Senate Bill 07, which is currently awaiting signature from Governor Rauner. Among other things, SB 07 creates a Concussion Oversight Team in schools to monitor Return to Play and Return to Learn for student-athletes who have sustained a concussion, requires education on concussions and symptoms for coaches and athletic officials, and requires schools to develop school-specific Emergency Action Plans (EAP’s) to address serious injuries that may occur on campus.

5. The council heard reports from Allison Hieb and Cole Steward, the two student members of the council, on concussion from the perspective of student-athletes. Both students shared the perspective of how their schools have addressed concussion with their student-athletes on both the individual and team level. As a part of that discussion, the council suggested that the IHSA consider developing some kind of post-video assessment be created for students to complete. Additionally, the council thought it may be worthwhile for the IHSA to register and track student-athletes from a sports medicine perspective. IHSA staff indicated they would begin the process by working on some kind of checklist that all member schools can utilize.

6. In reviewing the football recommendations made by the IHSA Football and Sports Medicine Advisory Committees, the council expressed their desire to see the IHSA be bolder with its recommendations concerning the amounts of full contact teams can use during the regular season. To help generate data that might indicate a bolder direction could be taken, the council suggested the IHSA survey varsity football coaches three times during the season to gauge the amount and type of contact teams use. The council also encouraged the IHSA to develop a quarter/week or game/week limitation for football players, a limitation that could include building in an appropriate amount of recovery time anytime a player engages in full contact. Finally, the council asked that the IHSA SMAC review and consider the definitions used in IHSA football policies. The council favors adding ‘thud’ to definition of ‘live action’/’full contact’.

7. In regards to the Managing Heat/Humidity Policy recommendation, the council suggested IHSA staff send the recommendation to the Kory Stringer Institute for that organization’s review. The council’s belief is that in the future there will be some items schools will need to have for their interscholastic athletic programs. Since heat illness is preventable, the council expressed their desire to see schools wishing to host IHSA state series events be required to have a Wet Bulb Globe Thermometer. The council also thought it might be wise for schools to identify a staff member (who may or may not be actively involved in the athletic program) who will be responsible to ensure the school complies with sports medicine-related topics.

8. Council member Fink shared his desire to have the IHSA develop some kind of online system that would enable schools with athletic trainers to report any concussions sustained by students in Illinois. He suggested that, at a minimum, IHSA ask for the following information: gender/year in school/game or practice/surface/date length of missed time

9. Council member Fink suggested that the IHSA should develop a position statement on impact sensors.

10. Council member Lindley asked if IHSA could do a study of the concussion testing results to gauge the percentage of questions correctly answered. IHSA staff indicated they would investigate this possibility.

11. The council asked IHSA staff to verify which, if any, voluntary databases exist whereby schools can submit injury/concussion results.

12. Council member Piron expressed his belief that coaches in all sports share the same desire to have students participate in interscholastic athletic programs because of all the values that students generate from that participation, and, as a result, wouldn’t want to jeopardize athlete’s health to the point they couldn’t play in a contest.

13. The council suggested IHSA investigate the possibility of developing some kind of document schools could use as a template to ensure all students who wish to participate in interscholastic athletics have completed or turned in the necessary sports medicine-related items prior to participation. Many schools use such a system, and the suggestion for the IHSA to develop one would, in the council’s eyes, help streamline that process.

14. The council suggested keeping a list of possible messages from coaches about the value of participation in HS sports that can be used at various times during the year on social media platforms.

15. The council wondered if there were ways to connect athletic trainers that have been identified by member schools. IHSA staff indicated they would investigate the possibility of putting together some kind of ‘master list’ of certified athletic trainers whose names have been submitted by member schools.

16. The council set Tuesday, October 27, 2015, as the date for its next meeting. Time and location will be determined at a later date.


As you can see we talked a lot about items that have been previously discussed but we also broached subjects that may not have been on the radar for the IHSA. It was a VERY productive meeting, to say the least, and going forward I believe that we on the Council will affect change in a positive direction. Our next meeting may be after the football season but we are already talking and communicating about what we want to get done.

I would love to hear feedback about what you have seen and get any suggestions going forward, let this be your open forum to see what we all can do together (I even dropped my favorite proverb you have seen on here many time “none of us is as smart as all of us.”)

Leave a comment, or email, or tweet…

2 thoughts on “Minutes From First Illinois Advisory Council on Player Safety

  1. G. Malcolm Brown June 16, 2015 / 14:10

    Everyone sounds concerned about safety and preventing concussions…Great…the best way would be Not putting hard helmets on Pee Wee players heads… The cop out of companies is hard objects protect the skull from damage….?..Pee Wee players do not come up against forces that might cause fractured skulls…but the hard helmets do bounce away and cause fast directional changes leading to TBI s. The Idea that hard headgear protects is a misconception….and an additional misconception is about that foam inside providing “softness” to the large surface of the head… it feels soft to your little fingertip…but little if any compression takes place upon a hit…the head stays centered in the shell..! Some companies brag that they added more foam in areas…That only increases support and the transference of motion… It is not possible to add softness… you are only firming up the distance between the shell and skull… for the concussion ride…!

    Thanks for your blog,

    G. Malcolm Brown

  2. Joseph Vigil July 29, 2015 / 23:46

    I recently did a research project on the topic of concussions and other brain injuries affect on the brain. I briefly touched on the affect that concussions have on athletes, especially those that had retired, and found that the retired athletes sustained permanent damage to their bodies (this includes mental, emotional, and physical issues). Athletes are at a huge risk for injury when they step onto the field, and without proper knowledge to catch warning signs of concussions they can easy go unnoticed by an onlooker. Although this bill may have some checks before entering the sport,what happens on it is still an issue. I just wanted to share some of my findings when researching this project.

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