Educate Athletes On Risk of Injury
Here in West Virginia, a “get up and walk it off” attitude is common among many high school athletes when they get banged around in competition.
While their coaches often encourage that, it’s different when the possibility of serious injury, including concussion, is involved. We know of no high school football coaches in this area who allow players to go back on the field after an injury that may turn out to have been a concussion. If in any doubt, they seek second opinions, often from medical professionals.
During the past few years, the possibility of serious, lasting injury from concussion has been a hot topic among adults concerned with the welfare of student athletes. On Wednesday, the West Virginia Board of Education discussed the issue.
A new law this year required the state Secondary Schools Activities Commission to draft rules aimed at preventing concussions among young athletes. Mandating that schools educate players about the risks of concussion is part of the SSAC plan.
Also in the law is a provision for schools to have written procedures for recognizing injuries among athletes. Measures for clearing players to return to competition after being injured, and for health care professionals to grant permission in some cases, are included.
After a 30-day comment period, the state Board of Education is expected to adopt the rules.
That would be a good thing in that the SSAC plan provides an additional layer of safeguards for student athletes.
Again, the prevailing opinion among coaches seems to be that no chances should be taken with players’ safety. It may well be that the appropriate thrust of new state rules should be in educating players and their parents about the risks of concussions and certain other injuries.
Eager, tough young athletes need to understand they are not indestructible – that protective equipment often does not safeguard them against serious injuries. Convincing them that sometimes, it’s better to stay on the bench may be the most critical task in safeguarding them.