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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Youth Concussion Safety Act Affects Park and School Districts

The Illinois General Assembly recently enacted Public Act 99-0245, to create the Youth Sports Concussion Safety Act, and to amend the Park District Code and the School Code. The amendment to the Park District Code states as follows:
Section 8-24(b)
Each park district is subject to and shall comply with the requirements of the Youth Sports Concussion Safety Act if the park district is directly responsible for organizing and providing a sponsored youth sports activity as a youth sports league by registering the players and selecting the coaches, as those terms are defined in the Youth Sports Concussion Safety Act. 
Under this new law, "sponsored youth sports activity" is any athletic activity, including practices and competitions for players under the direction of a coach, athletic director, or band leader of a youth sports league, including, but not limited to baseball, basketball, cheerleading, cross country track, fencing, field hockey, football, golf, gymnastics, ice hockey, lacrosse, marching band, rugby, soccer, skating, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track (indoor and outdoor), ultimate Frisbee, volleyball, water polo, wrestling, and any other sport offered by a youth sports league. The law's provisions apply to sponsored youth sports activities beginning or continuing after January 1, 2016.
Section 15 of the Youth Sports Concussion Safety Act mirrors the existing language in Section 8-24(b) of the Park District Code, which "authorizes and encourages" park districts to make available to residents and users of youth athletic programs educational materials on the nature and risk of concussion and head injuries, including the advisability of removal of youth athletes who exhibit signs of concussion from a practice or game. Section 15 does not establish any new duties for park districts who sponsor youth sports activities and youth sports leagues.
Section 80 of the Youth Sports Concussion Safety Act amends the School Code and creates requirements for school district to establish a concussion oversight team; prohibits students from participating in interscholastic athletic activities until the student's parent or guardian acknowledges receiving written material explaining concussion prevention, symptoms, treatment, oversight, and establishes guidelines for safely resuming participation following a concussion; and establishes a detailed list of procedures and protocols that must be followed by school districts. Section 80 amends only the School Code and is not applicable to park districts.
Park districts should continue their efforts to provide educational materials to parents and guardians of youth sports participants, as well as youth sports coaches and officials. Although Public Act 00-0245 does not create a mandate that park districts establish protocols and procedures for coaches and officials to follow in preventing and recognizing head injuries and procedures for the safe removal and return to competition of participants who have suffered head injuries, it might be advisable nonetheless to establish such policies.


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