Bill calls for concussion training for high school coaches

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Indiana could soon become the first state to require high school football coaches to take part in a player safety and concussion-training course. The bill authored by Sen. Travis Holdman, R–Markle, would require the course every two years.

“We’d be very proud to do this since USA Football, an arm of the NFL and players union is basically housed now and based” in Indianapolis, Holdman said. The bill would also parallel a Washington state law by requiring football players to wait 24 hours before returning to the field of play after a concussion.

Holdman said Indiana is the eighth state to copy Washington’s law, but the first state to add the coaches’ training course. Currently, the bill only requires high school football coaches take part in the training course, but Holdman said he hopes to work with soccer programs in the future.

“We went with football because of the complexity of the sport and the fact that we have a certified program in place for safety purposes,” Holdman said. “We just don’t have that in place for other sports.” He said he has support from all over the state.

Bobby Cox, commissioner of the Indiana High School Athletic Association said he doesn’t oppose the legislation, but doesn’t think it’s necessary. “You don’t want the coach to be making that decision,” Cox said.

Current IHSAA protocol requires that if an athlete might have a concussion, the athlete must see a physician.

“We’ve had that protocol for over two years – before concussion language was written,” Cox said, “I think the protocols, as long as they’re executed, they’re appropriate.”

If athletes are cleared by a physician or an athletic trainer during the game and show no sign of concussion, they are allowed to re-enter. But if athletes are diagnosed with a concussion, they must wait 24 hours before returning to any athletic activity.

(Related story: Two IU professors are working on a device that could quickly diagnose concussions.)

“In absence of a health professional, the official removes the athlete from the contest, and they cannot return until there is a written release forms a doctor,” Cox said. Cox said parents or guardians receive the concussion protocol paper work before each sports season and must sign it for their children to participate.

“I think the (law) we have on the books right now is great,” said Dr. John Baldea, a sports medicine physician for IU Health. “I’d like to see the state law trimmed down a bit so that it exactly states that physicians only are allowed to do that.”

Baldea said other medical professionals – including chiropractors and podiatrists – can clear athletes with concussions to return to play under the current law

“We’re seeing some people who don’t know what they’re doing trying to clear athletes to return and play football,” said Baldea. “The IHSAA is very strict on that, but the state law is not very strict.”


  • Not the First State
    Many states require coaches to take not only first aid, CPR and AED classes but concussion training and education. Some state even require officials to due the same. Indiana is not the first but one of the last to make such classes required.
  • not the first
    I believe that you would find that Indiana would not be the to require concussion training for football coaches. In Texas, they have been doing the training for ALL coaches for at least two years.
  • IHSAA strikes again
    From the time that I moved here, this organization has done nothing to improve the quality of sports in this state. If anything, like creating the class high school basketball state tournament rules. When I was a kid, the storybook, movie producing concept of the small high school coming back to win the State championship title, class based on school size, the IHSAA ruined the tournament, and the nationwide attention that it once received. From the time that sectional games began, all local games for that specific area were broadcasted on the radio, with the final game of each level, being televised locally. Here in Indy, Channel six had the final game of the sectionals and regionals on air. EVERYONE in this city watched. Then during the semi state and final games, both afternoon and evening games were broadcasted by a host of local television networks, and the results were talked about on a national level. It was all that everyone talked about, and here in Indy, man, I remember my family never left the television screen during those times. The announcer, Tom Carnegie, was a name that everyone knew, for his style of broadcasting, and his objectivity in announcing the games. Arsenal Technical High School, if I remember hosted the games here in Indy, including the semi state and final games, played at Butler University's field house. From the start of the sectionals, we all followed the players, the schools and the crowds. Even the school's respective cheerleaders were introduced, and their gymnastic aptitudes televised, when schools like Crispus Attucks, and Tech's on floor cheers were even shown around sponsor breaks, for they seemed to be the two schools who had cheerleaders who were skilled gymnasts before cheerleading even became an sport in itself. Their integration of head and handsprings, walkovers, and strattle jumps that landed into the splits received as much adulation from the crowds as did good plays on the floor by the basketball players. Rhythmic chants with pep bands adding skilled drummers and horn players added to the crowd's clapping and rocking involvement, which, in some cases, not only added enthusiasm to the sport, but seemed to change the momentum and drive to the team's success. Those games, the chants, the excitement and the school's spirit was a statewide event, that seemed to resonate across the country, and eventually into the college scene. Movies, like 'Hoosiers' and basketball legend 'Jimmy Chitwood' made it to an award winning production. Then, the IHSAA stepped in, and with their infamous wisdom, came up with class basketball. I honestly believe, looking back, that they were a part of the decline in this state's public school academic as well as athletic performances. Games lost viewership; public schools, that were once well known and overflowing with students, began moving to the suburbs, and private schools began to take over, where basketball was given little attention. Gone were the sold out crowds, the multiple television cameras. Public school enrollments in the cities began to decline; the once riveting school spirit where groups of friends, who would gather for games, then to one of the group's parents' homes for snacks, recapping the games, board and social focused group games gave way to boredom that led to drinking and eventually drugs. School spirit, pep rallies, that were televised on local networks were gone, and with the public school's dropping enrollments, game school closures, sensational basketball players who once were spread throughout the cities and counties, seemed to wan and then came the now infinite busing to achieve racial equality took over. The well intentioned IHSAA essentially ruined this state's international recognition, and they haven't stopped since. When a city the size of Muncie, wanted to even cancel providing buses for the kids to get to school, something is definitely wrong. When I watched the now traditional movie, 'The Christmas Story,' much of this came to mind. Divorce, private schools, and the inevitable changing times, of course, had a role in this, but I just wonder, as I grow older, what if they would have just let a system that, by all standards was NOT broken alone, if they didn't in way, start a socially destructive path, that has been spiraling out of control since. When, in school, the highlight of the week was the upcoming game that coming weekend, the anticipation of the new high school rankings, the pep rallies and respect for authority, change to students wandering if they will make it through the school year without being shot or assaulted, if much of that, didn't manifest by our own inability to govern, teach, and encourage a sense of morality and socialization skills, fell apart. Knowing that Indiana was a model that set the stage, nationally for that kind of school spirit, academic achievement, school pride, and appropriate levels of the maturation process, we, as a society, torpedoed our own systems- systems that were working and functioning successfully, lead to the mess we now have today. It would be interesting, if we could just turn back the hands of time, and assess that as adults, didn't in someway, cause many of our own woes by attempting to change to a better way, in fact, ruin it. When there was a time that as kids, can remember in vivid detail, the Kennedy assassination, today's school children are hounded by achievement tests, ratings, and so disturbed, they are shooting each other. We need to figure out where we went wrong,,,, the answers might not be as complex as we may want them to be.

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