The National Football League released its first-ever Health and Safety report on Tuesday, and the league’s swath of youth-safety and -fitness initiatives received more than five pages of coverage.
Not surprisingly, the report’s main area of focus in the youth-safety realm revolves around concussions, which the league called “a serious public-health issue going well beyond the NFL.”
The league promoted its advocacy work around pushing states to adopt youth-concussion laws, ideally mimicking Washington state’s Zackery Lystedt Law. The NFL considers the Lystedt Law to be model youth-concussion legislation as it contains three main components: a student-athlete’s parent or guardian must sign a concussion-information form before the student-athlete is allowed to participate in practice or games; any student-athlete who’s suspected of having sustained a concussion must be immediately removed from play; and student-athletes who have been removed for a potential concussion can’t come back until receiving clearance from a licensed health-care professional.
To date, 40 states and the District of Columbia have enacted youth-concussion laws, and Michigan appears not far behind. (Legislation has passed through the state House and Senate and now awaits Gov. Rick Snyder’s signature.) Roughly 30 of those states passed their legislation within the last 18-24 months.
At the 2011 Congress of Neurological Surgeons, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell re-emphasized his goal for all 50 states to adopt youth-concussion laws “sooner rather than later.” Back in January, the NFL and the National Collegiate Athletic Association sent out letters to governors of the 19 states that had yet to adopt youth-concussion laws, urging them to do so ASAP. (A handful of those states have since heeded that advice.)
“The NFL recognizes the importance of helping to improve safety in all sports, which is why it has been active in advocating for youth-concussion laws in every state,” said Dr. John York, co-chairman of the San Francisco 49ers and chairman of the NFL owners committee on health and safety, in the report. “These laws better protect young athletes in all sports with respect to concussions and return to play.”
That last point is worth stressing: States’ youth-concussion laws apply to
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.