Archived Story

Concussion protocol tops list of changes

Published 9:04pm Monday, August 2, 2010

EAST LANSING — One of the biggest rules changes ever affecting the health of all interscholastic athletic activity participants takes effect as the 2010-11 fall sports season begins next week for over 110,000 students in eight sports at member schools of the Michigan High School Athletic Association with official practices.

Practice sessions begin on Monday in football, followed by all other sports on Wednesday, Aug. 11.

Practice in football must begin on Monday for all schools wishing to begin regular season games the weekend of Aug. 26-29. Schools must have 12 days of preseason practice at all levels before their first game, which may not occur before 16 calendar days.

All football schools must also conduct at least three conditioning days of practice before beginning contact, and the conditioning sessions may not include any pads.

In golf and tennis, competition may commence no earlier than after three separate days of team practice and not before seven calendar days. The first day competition may take place in golf and tennis is Aug. 18. In all other fall sports, contests can take place after seven days of practice for the team and not before nine calendar days.  The first day competition may take place in cross country, tennis soccer, swimming and diving, and volleyball in the fall is Aug. 20.

This year, two football dates precede Labor Day, and Thursday varsity games will take place both weeks. Sub-varsity competition may begin on Wednesday, Aug. 25. In Week 1, 54 games will be played on Thursday, 254 contests will be played on Friday, and 20 games will be played on Saturday. The following weekend, 255 games will be played on Thursday, 73 games will be played on Friday, and two games will be played on Saturday.

Keeping safety at the forefront of school sports, the MHSAA Representative Council approved a five-step protocol to be followed during the course of contests when an athlete sustains an apparent concussion, which will be utilized in all sports at all levels beginning with the 2010-11 school year.

The National Federation of State High School Associations had previously adopted language to appear in all rules books beginning this fall calling for the removal from a contest of a athlete exhibiting the signs of a potential concussion, leaving the mechanics – including the clearing of a young person to return to play – to be decided by each state association.

Here is a summary of the protocols for all regular-season and MHSAA post-season tournament contents to be applied: Officials will have no role in determining if an athlete has sustained a concussion, but will only point out to the head coach that the player has been apparently injured and should be examined by a health care provider.

If the school’s designated heath care profession at the event confirms a concussion did not occur, the athlete may reenter the contest. In the event the game continues and the athlete is withheld for an apparent concussion, the athlete may not return to play that day and may only return at a future date after a written clearance is issued by an MD or a DO. The game official will file a report with the MHSAA and the removed player’s school.

For MHSAA post-season tournaments where an MHSAA-assigned physician is present, that individual will make the determination regarding same day return to play.

At its June meeting, the MHSAA Executive Committee followed-up on the Council action by approving sanctions for non-compliance with the concussion management policy.

A student-athlete who returns to competition in a subsequent meet or contest without the written authorization of an MD or DO after being removed from play for exhibiting concussion-like symptoms and not being cleared by the school’s designated medical authority to return to that contest is considered to be an ineligible player, and any competition in which the student-athlete participates without the proper authorization is forfeited.

The school will be place on probation in that sport through the end of that sports season of the following year. A second offense in that sport during probation will result in the extension of the probation for an additional year, and the school will be prohibited from participating in the MHSAA post-season tournament in that sport during the original and extended probation period.

In addition, the MHSAA will be working in cooperation with the Brian Injury Association of Michigan to develop a variety of methods to promote public awareness of the issue of concussions in youth sports and the new MHSAA concussion protocols.

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