Senate Bill 200 provides safeguards for student athletes
Governor Corbett signed Senate Bill 200 — a measure introduced by Senator Pat Browne (R-16), to increase awareness and prevention of traumatic head injuries among Pennsylvania’s scholastic athletes — into law on Wednesday, November 9.
Under Senator Browne’s Safety in Youth Sports Act, students showing symptoms of a concussion can be sidelined by officials, coaches, athletic trainers, licensed physicians, licensed physical therapists or other officials designated by the school and barred from participating in games, competitions, scrimmages or practices until evaluated and medically cleared by an appropriate medical professional.
“I appreciate the support of my colleagues and the Governor for this bill which sets clear guidelines for getting injured students off the playing field and ensures that they are healthy before they can return,” Senator Browne said.
“There is no reason for a young person to put their life and future in jeopardy after they sustain a concussive injury. We want to encourage all students to be active; but, they must be smart about it and this legislation will provide important safeguards for them,” Senator Browne continued.
The new law includes students participating in:
- Interscholastic activities.
- Athletic contests or competitions, including cheerleading sponsored by or associated with a school entity.
- Sports activities sponsored by clubs and school-affiliated organizations.
It sets the following requirements:
- Requires the Department of Health and the Department of Education post information on risks of head injuries and concussions on their websites;
- Requires students and their parents review information regarding the risk of head injuries and concussions before participation in scholastic sports activities;
- Requires students showing signs of brain trauma be taken out of a game and be evaluated by an appropriate medical professional who is trained in the management and evaluation of concussions before they return to participation – with penalties for coaches who violate this provision; and,
- Requires training of coaches in the risk of brain injury in scholastic sports in a program certified by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) or the National Federation of State High School Associations.
“It wasn’t all that long ago that these injuries were downplayed. It was common just to say that a player simply got his “bell rung” after a violent collision. Often, these players were told to just “shake it off” and get back on to the field,” Senator Browne said. “We now know that severe and repeated concussive injuries dramatically impact the brain and too many players are paying a heavy price for those injuries now. In some cases, athletes’ careers – and even their lives – were cut short by the intensity and cumulative impact of those injuries.”