FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Tim Briggs
Briggs: Safety in Youth Sports Act passes House
National expert calls it one of best concussion bills in nation
HARRISBURG, Oct. 5 – State Rep. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery, said the state House today unanimously passed the Safety in Youth Sports Act, designed to improve concussion management in youth sports and to increase awareness regarding the devastating, life-long effects they can cause when not handled properly.
It now moves to the Senate for concurrence, and then on to the governor for his signature.
Briggs said the Safety in Youth Sports Act (S.B. 200), which he co-introduced in the House and Senate with state Sen. Pat Browne, R-16, aims to ensure that male and female student athletes who suffer concussions receive proper care and rest before they get back into the game.
"I made this important legislation one of my top priorities when I was elected to the legislature in 2008, and it has evolved into a strong bill that that does right by Pennsylvania's kids," Briggs said. "The Safety in Youth Sports Act will help protect the Commonwealth's richest resource: our children’s minds."
The bill states that a player who shows symptoms of sustaining a concussion should be removed from play and would not be able to return to play until they are cleared by an appropriate medical professional. It also would require students and a parent or guardian to annually read and sign a concussion and head injury awareness sheet before the student participates in practice or competition so they are better informed about injuries that may be sustained on the field. Briggs said this information sheet will include materials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Head's Up program.
Briggs said the bill also would require coaches annually to complete a concussion certification course, such as the free online course offered by the CDC.
Dr. Micky Collins of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, a nationally renowned sports concussion expert who treats National Football League players and student athletes at UPMC's Sports Medicine Concussion Program, hailed the bill as some of the best concussion legislation in the nation.
"The Safety in Youth Sports Act is one of the most comprehensive, advanced and reasonable bills in the nation when it comes to concussion management in youth sports," Collins said. "This bill would not only succeed in raising awareness and recognition of this issue, but it would ensure better clinical management for any student athlete sustaining a mild traumatic brain injury. It is my hope this will result in fewer injured athletes in the future."
Collins also noted the provisions of the Safety in Youth Sports Act would pertain to cheerleading and club sports like rugby and hockey, which typically see many concussions but are not covered under legislation in most other states.
Jeff Miller, senior vice president of government affairs and public policy for the NFL, echoed Collins' statement, saying that Briggs' efforts with the Safety in Youth Sports Act will make sure parents, players and coaches are better educated and aware, which is the key to protecting young athletes.
"After consulting on youth concussion management bills across the country, I can confidently say that the Safety in Youth Sports Act is a very strong piece of legislation," Miller said. "The NFL has been proud to work with Representative Briggs and Senator Browne on this effort. By passing this legislation, Pennsylvania is ensuring that coaches, students and families across the state will be better equipped to handle concussions when they occur."
Tracy Yatsko, a former high school basketball player from Tamaqua who experienced a concussion while playing basketball in high school and has suffered debilitating migraines ever since, has regularly spoken out about the need for better concussion management. She has been a strong supporter of Briggs' legislation since he first introduced it, and has joined him at press conferences with the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field and with the NFL in Harrisburg.
"Representative Briggs, Senator Browne and all of those who voted for this bill are doing an amazing thing by voting 'yes' for the Safety in Youth Sports Act," Yatsko said. "Speaking out and supporting this bill has helped to give my life renewed purpose. All Pennsylvania student athletes need to know how important it is to get medical attention if they think they have a concussion, and this new legislation will raise awareness and protect our student athletes."