Mandated concussion talk good step

Last week, one of the hot stories of the NHL All-Star game was about a player not there — one of the best in the game, Sidney Crosby.

The Pittsburgh Penguin has been out since New Year's Day when he suffered a concussion. He's just one of many concussion stories this year in the NHL and in the NFL, both hard-hitting sports that have tried to rein in hits to the head while making sure those suffering don't get back to playing too soon.

The NFL, which saw its season end on Sunday with the Super Bowl, has been a hotbed of controversy this year as many players have had to miss games after concussions and many other players have been fined for hits to the head.

To raise awareness, current and former players have been speaking out on the topic. Former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon said this week he remains forgetful to this day. He also said he played with concussions, not remembering certain plays until the next day watching it on film.

That's scary stuff. And important for all of us to hear because interest in this topic is not limited to just the professional sports fan. Concussions afflict players at every level, including high school and youth leagues.

As Daily Herald staff writer Jeff Engelhardt reported Sunday, concerns for the young players have reached Springfield. Illinois House Republican Leader Tom Cross has proposed legislation requiring schools to hold a meeting for student-athletes and their parents on the dangers of concussions and to sign a form stating they understand the risks.

We applaud the effort and urge the General Assembly to approve the bill this spring so it is in full effect for next school year. We can't move fast enough to educate school administrators, coaches, students and parents on how to lessen the number of concussions and recognize and deal with those who suffer a concussion.

“The more education and awareness out there, the better chance of preventing it,” Cross said.

Last year we were supportive of the Illinois High School Association's efforts in dealing with concussions. A new rule was put in place that calls for a player to be immediately removed if a concussion is suspected and not allowed back unless a medical professional gives the OK. This is true in all sports, not just football.

So we are pleased that IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman is supportive of Cross' bill. And we agree with Hickman that it should go further than just high school and be mandated at the club level and youth level as well.

Efforts so far are having a positive effect and it's important to keep that momentum going.

“It's really nice to see the preventive measures schools are taking to keep the kids alive and safe while they play,” said Stevenson High School athletic trainer Tom Loew.

That's a goal we all should have.

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