For Immediate Release
Concord, MA. Head injuries in youth and high school football pose daunting challenges, ones that sensational media coverage has many parents believing are insurmountable. Add in a culture resistant to change, too many coaches still teaching players to block and tackle using their heads, players unwilling to report concussions, and a sport in which, despite new laws, new technology and new tests, concussion identification and management remains haphazard, and parents are left wondering what can be done to improve safety.
Now comes "The Smartest Team"TM, an hour-long documentary designed to help football programs and athletes play safer and smarter.
Produced and directed by visionary youth sports parenting expert and author, Brooke de Lench, and drawing both on her experience as a parent of a concussed high school football and lacrosse player and as the founder and publisher of MomsTEAM.com®, the acknowledged "pioneer" in youth sports concussion education, "The Smartest Team" documents how de Lench worked with a high school in rural Oklahoma to address the challenges concussions pose in football.
"The Smartest Team" begins where other concussion documentaries leave off, not simply identifying the risks of long-term brain injury in football but offering youth and high school programs across the country specific ways to minimize those risks, through a focus on what de Lench calls the "Six PillarsTM" of a comprehensive concussion risk management program:
- Early Identification;
- Conservative Treatment
- Cautious Return to Play
Through candid interviews of parents, players, the Newcastle High athletic trainer and team doctor, equipment manufacturers, and leading concussion experts, "The Smartest Team" acknowledges the serious challenge concussions pose while showing in easy-to-understand terms how high school football programs can improve player safety by:
- Educating parents and players on the signs and symptoms of concussion and the long-term health risks if concussions are not identified early and treated conservatively;
- Protecting players from increased risk of traumatic brain injury by teaching them "heads up" tackling and blocking, equipping them with properly fitted helmets, strengthening their necks to better withstand the forces that cause concussion, and by limiting the number of hits they sustain over the course of a season and career;
- Arming sideline personnel (especially a certified athletic trainer) with new, cutting edge tools and technology, including impact sensors to track hits and alert sideline personnel to those which might result in concussion or brain trauma from an accumulation of sub-concussive blows, and a battery of quick, and reliable sideline assessment tests to make "remove from play" decisions;
- Prescribing the physical and cognitive rest concussed athletes need in order for their brains to heal and gradual return to a full school day ("return to learn");
- Returning athletes to play only after their symptoms have cleared, they are able to handle a full academic workload, their scores on balance, neurocognitive and visual tests have returned to their individualized baseline, and they have successfully completed a graduated exercise program without their symptoms returning; and
- Recommending retirement from contact or collision sports to concussed athletes when continued participation poses an unreasonable risk of permanent brain damage.
Narrated by two-time Super Bowl winner and Big Ten Network announcer, Howard Griffith, "The Smartest Team" features a number of leading experts on head injuries, including:
- William P. Meehan, III, M.D., Director of the Sports Concussion Clinic, Children's Hospital Boston and author of Kids, Sports, and Concussions;
- Rosemarie Scolaro Moser, Ph.D., Director of the Sports Concussion Center of New Jersey, author of Ahead of the Game: The Parents' Guide to Youth Sports Concussion and a member of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Mild Traumatic Brain Injury panel;
- Joseph A. Congeni, M.D., Medical Director, The Sports Medicine Center, Akron Children's Hospital, and
- Coach Bobby Hosea of the Train Em' Up Academy and developer of the Head Free TackleTM method.
A Mom's E-Mail
"The Smartest Team" grew out of an email in February 2012 de Lench received from Kerali Davis, the mother of a high school football player in Newcastle, Oklahoma. "When Kerali wrote asking for my help in setting up a concussion risk management program, I decided the best way MomsTEAM and I could educate the largest number of parents, players, athletic trainers, and football coaches was not just to help the Newcastle Racers set up their program, but to capture it on film to make it available to a wider audience."
"This was my first documentary, but I couldn't be more pleased with result," says de Lench. "We couldn't have done it without the support of the entire Newcastle community, from the school superintendant to the athletic director and head football coach, from the athletic trainer to the parents and the athletes. I think the film shows what can happen when all stakeholders, especially moms, work together as a team to make the sport of football safer, not just for their kids but for all kids. More broadly, The Smartest Team shows how we can not only preserve but strengthen youth and high school football, which play such an important part of the life of so many communities across America."
Now in its thirteenth year, MomsTeam.com® is the premier online youth sports parenting information gateway for America's 90 million sports parents. The site currently offers over 10,000 pages of continually updated health and safety, parenting, nutrition and sports information and news, forums, blogs, and advice from a team of leading experts, veteran sport parents, and Olympic athletes. Good Housekeeping magazine selected MomsTEAM as one of the top three websites for sports parents.
MomsTeam.com's Concussion Center has been recognized as the pioneer in youth sports concussion education, and is widely regarded as being one of the most - if not the most - comprehensive resources for concussion information on the Internet.
MomsTEAM was recently selected as a content provider to the National Football League's health and safety website, NFL Evolution.com.
About Brooke de Lench
In addition to being the Founder and Publisher of MomsTEAM, Brooke de Lench is the author of Home Team Advantage: The Critical Role of Mothers in Youth Sports (HarperCollins)
Ms. de Lench is a sought-after lecturer on a wide range of youth sport parenting topics. She has made appearances on all the major television networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox), as well as The Today Show, CBS Morning Show, and three documentaries on youth sports, which aired on ESPN, HBO and A&E respectively. She has also consulted for PBS's Frontline, HBO Real Sports, ABC's Nightline and ESPN youth sports-related shows and is quoted frequently in the print press, including Time, Reader's Digest, The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, and Washington Post. Her opinion pieces have appeared on the op-ed pages of major newspapers nationwide, including The Washington Post and Long Island Newsday. A former high school and college athlete and ranked squash player, Brooke is the mother and past coach of triplet sons. She lives in the Boston area.
For more information, please see www.TheSmartestTeam.com
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