The National Football League and National Collegiate Athletic Association aren’t the only major sports organizations coming under fire for their handling of sports-related concussions.
On Saturday, a former high school quarterback from Notre Dame (Ill.) College Prep, Daniel Bukal, filed a lawsuit against the Illinois High School Association, accusing the association of a “systemic failure to properly manage concussions.” The suit is being referred to as a first-of-its-kind, football-specific class-action lawsuit against a state high school athletic association, according to CBSSports.com’s Dennis Dodd.
Bukal, who played from 1999-2003, allegedly sustained multiple concussions during his high school playing career, yet did not receive any information about concussions either before or after suffering his injuries. As the suit notes, the state association had yet to adopt any sort of concussion policy in the early 2000s, which led to inconsistent return-to-play decisions. The suit alleges that Bukal continues to suffer from lingering concussion effects, including lightheadness, migraines, and memory loss.
The state association’s current concussion guidelines require any student-athlete suspected of having sustained a concussion to be removed from “a contest.” Student-athletes removed under such suspicions cannot return to practice or a game until being cleared by a licensed physician or certified athletic trainer.
The lawsuit, however, suggests that policy falls far short of the current best practice. It calls for the remove-from-play requirements to be extended beyond competitions into practice, implementation of preseason baseline testing, a program for concussion reporting and tracking, and mandatory concussion training for trainers working with football teams and faculty members at IHSA member schools.
Bukal’s attorney, Joe Siprut,
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.