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Concussion Bill of Rights #12: National Sports Bodies and Pro Leagues Take Concussions Seriously

NFL needs to send clear message to parents and youth about concussion safety

While parents with kids in some sports can take some comfort in knowing that the national governing body for that sport is taking steps to address the concussion issue, too many have not yet followed the lead of such groups as US Lacrosse in instituting programs to address concussion safety.

The twelfth, and final, right of parents under the Parent's Concussion Bill of Rights, is that the national governing body for their child's sport take concussions seriously.

And, even though only a tiny fraction of athletes playing sports at the youth and high school level will go on to play college ball and then to the pros, this country's professional leagues could and should be doing more when it comes to concussions, not just for their own athletes, but because children follow and take their cue from the examples set by their heroes in the pros.

From where I sit, as a parent and editor of a site for parents with children in sports, I believe that the NFL has thus far been a little too slow to get on the concussion bandwagon and to set the right example for the parents and children of this country. The NHL recently became the first professional league to offer baseline testing of players, and has made the glass and the boards more forgiving, but hasn't done nearly enough to penalize players for illegal hits, like the one by the Flyers' Randy Jones on the Boston Bruins' Patrice Bergeron in the fall of 2007 that left him sitting on the sidelines with a Grade 3 concussion for the rest of the season.

Unless and until professional sports send a clear message that concussions are dangerous and need to be treated as the serious, potentially life-altering or -ending injuries they can sometimes be, parents are going to be fighting an uphill battle in convincing their young warriors to likewise take concussions seriously.

It is time for the NFL, as the professional league in the sport which experiences the largest number of concussions by far, to demonstrate in a tangible way its commitment to concussion safety and education, both for its players, for the players at the youth level who emulate them, and the parents whose job it is to keep them safe. To that end, I would love for the NFL to join with MomsTEAM in sponsoring a public service campaign about the dangers of concussions in sports. This need not be a campaign about the danger of football but the importance of concussion management.

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