The NFL offered support and thanks to Louisiana and Governor Bobby Jindal, who signed Senate Bill 189/Act 314 today. The bill protects young athletes and fosters head injury awareness in youth sports.
The bill will better protect Louisiana's youth athletes from both the acute and long-term dangers of concussions and second impact syndrome; increase state-wide awareness among coaches, officials, athletes, and parents alike; and improve current health care practices regarding the evaluation and management of the concussed youth athlete.
The New Orleans Saints actively supported passage of the bill, with Saints Director of Player Development, former player Fred McAfee, testifying about the importance of the legislation before the Louisiana Senate Health and Welfare Committee in May. Saints Head Trainer Scottie B. Patton and Senior Director of Communications Douglas Miller also testified in support of the bill.
Saints Owner Tom Benson released the following statement about the bill's passage: "The New Orleans Saints believe there are two major advantages to having a state law on this issue: One) It educates players, teammates, parents and high school coaches on the dangers of concussions and; Two) It helps everyone playing high school sports, regardless whether they live in New Orleans or in a small rural town.
"In passing this law, it illustrates the power of teamwork at every level across that state beginning with our youth coaches and the Louisiana High School Athletic Association. Together these interested parties have helped steer this important legislation through the proper channels to better the futures of our athletes."
The bill establishes training and education standards for coaches, officials, parents, and youth athletes for recognition of concussion and brain injury symptoms; ensures that any youth athlete who is suspected of having suffered a concussion or brain injury is removed from play immediately and appropriately evaluated; and requires that any student removed from play for having been suspected of suffering a concussion or brain injury is evaluated by an appropriate healthcare professional and cleared by that professional before returning to play.
Laws like these are inspired by Zackery Lystedt who, in 2006, suffered a brain injury following his return to a middle school football game after sustaining a concussion. Zackery, his family and a broad range of medical, business and community partners, including the NFL, lobbied the Washington state legislature for a law to protect young athletes in all sports from returning to play too soon.
In May 2010, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent letters to governors of 44 states that did not have concussion laws urging them to pass a law similar to the Lystedt Law. In the letter, Commissioner Goodell said sports and political leaders can help raise awareness of concussions while ensuring proper and effective treatment.
Since the passage of the Lystedt Law in 2009, 29 states, including Louisiana, have passed similar laws protecting young athletes.
To learn more about the NFL's commitment to health and about the Lystedt Law, visit www.nflhealthandsafety.com .