Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

September 16, 2013

Lawmaker wants mandatory safety training for coaches

INDIANAPOLIS — The push to protect young athletes from sports-related concussions may soon extend beyond high school athletic fields and into the public parks used by private leagues and clubs that cater to young children.

On Friday, the legislature’s Commission on Education heard testimony in support of a measure that would require all youth football coaches in Indiana using municipally owned parks or fields to be trained and certified in a player-safety program backed by the National Football League.

The proposed legislation would put the onus of enforcement into the hands of local governments that may risk facing lawsuits if they allow uncertified coaches to use their facilities.

Among those speaking in favor of the measure was two-time Super Bowl champion Rosevelt Colvin, who now coaches third- and fourth-graders on a tackle football team in Indianapolis.

Colvin said the lack of good training for the volunteers who coach league and club football puts children at risk for harm. Of the 4.4 million children who play tackle football, an estimated 500,000 suffer concussions each season.

“The things I see on a daily basis, in practice and in games, turns my stomach,” Colvin said at a press conference before the hearing. “It’s bigger than just concussions. I think everyone knows that a lot of parents, a lot of coaches are trying to live their dreams through these young men.”  

Indiana already has a law that requires high school coaches to be trained in concussion awareness. It requires them to pull a student-athlete from practice or play if they suspect the player has suffered a concussion. Those players can’t return until they’re cleared by a doctor.

But the law only covers interscholastic sports.

State Sen. Travis Holdman, a Republican from Markle, wants to expand the law to cover all youth football coaches, including those who are part of leagues and clubs that play on public fields. He plans to revive a bill that died in the 2013 legislative session that would require all youth football coaches go through online training developed by the non-profit USA Football, the NFL-affiliated governing body for youth football.

Holdman said the legislation is needed because of the “insidious nature” of concussions and the long-term impact for young athletes who suffer head injuries. He acknowledged that Republican Gov. Mike Pence has called for a moratorium on more regulations.

“I have the same concerns about over-regulating. But when it comes to issues that have to do with children and young folks, I believe those young folks are exempt from that moratorium,” Holdman said. “We’ve got to do things that take care of those young kids.”

USA Football’s executive director Scott Hallenbeck, who testified at the hearing, said his organization can provide the online training at a cost of $5 for youth league coaches and $25 for school coaches.

The training, called “Heads Up”, focuses on preventing brain injuries by teaching coaches how to teach their players how to safely tackle an opponent. It also includes training in how to prevent heat strokes, which are one of the leading causes of deaths for young athletes. Hallenbeck said more than 2,800 coaches have already been trained in the program.

“We’re talking about complex game to teach,” Hallenbeck said. “With due respect to these volunteers, we know their hearts are in the right place. We know they are committed to this game. We just want to make sure when we’re talking about coaching football, America’s favorite sport, that they are doing it in the right way.”  

Hallenbeck said the Heads Up training was developed, in part, in response to the declining number of children who were playing tackle football. His organization estimates youth participation dropped last year to about 2.82 million players from 3 million in 2011.

Also speaking in favor the proposed bill was Michael Duerson of Muncie, whose brother, former NFL player David Duerson committed suicide in 2011. Michael Duerson said his brother suffered from a severe brain injury related to multiple concussions he’d sustained during his playing years. But Michael Duerson also called for the legislation to be broader so that it would cover all youth sports coaches. He said concussion was the leading injury in girls soccer. “And now we’ve got 3-year-olds playing soccer,” he said.

Bobby Cox, the commissioner of the Indiana High School Athletic Association also spoke in favor of Holdman’s proposal. He said it would provide “impetus” for the IHSAA to expand the safety training it already offers its members’ coaches.

Maureen Hayden can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com

1
Text Only
Local News
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Poll

Last weekend (July 12) the Goshen Parks Department held its Kid’s Try-athlon to promote childhood fitness and this week (July 18) the new bicycle trail is open to the fairgrounds in Goshen, offering residents a healthy way to get to the annual agriculture exposition. Have you joined the local fitness movement?

Yes, I work at eating healthy and exercising
No, I am happy with my fitness level
Changing my diet and exercise frequency is a work in progress
     View Results
AP Video
Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites Anti-violence Advocate Killed, but Not Silenced. Dempsey: Putin May Light Fire and Lose Control Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires