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Youth Football is Changing Even in its Most Dedicated Communities


Marshall, Texas is a quintessential football town. Dedicated to all of its teams no matter the age group. It was even featured in the novel Friday Night Lights 25 years ago, but its school board has just unanimously voted to dissolve its tackle football program for 7th graders in favor of a flag football program. Not only was there no resistance from the school board, but even the parents in this diehard football community did not object. Marshall's superintendent, Marc Smith, believes that this is because "the safety factor really resonated with our parents. They get it and they see their little 11 or 12 year olds getting slammed to the ground."

Athlete injuries

The fact of the matter is that the spotlight placed on traumatic brain injuries through the recent NFL litigation has forever altered the way our nation views the sport. Coaches and players once believed that tackles and concussions were simply part of the game, and now practically every single football organization has implemented new game play strategies and return-to-play protocols. Furthermore, all 50 states now have laws requiring a player to be removed from play if a concussion is suspected, and the player must be examined by a medical professional before returning to the game.

Our own Joseph Cammarata, President of the Brain Injury Association of the District of Columbia, drafted legislation which eventually became law in the District of Columbia to protect student athletes. The law is called the Athletic Concussion Protection Act of 2011. It applies to any minor athlete participating in athletic activities in school or youth leagues. The DC legislation requires that any youth athlete who is suspected of having suffered a concussion must be removed from practice or play, immediately. The youth athlete may not be returned to play or practice, until he or she is cleared by a licensed healthcare provider. The legislation also requires that coaches, school staff, parents or guardians, and the children, be required to undergo mandatory training before being allowed to coach or participate in youth athletics.

If you have any questions about concussions, or the application of these laws where you live, please do not hesitate to give the personal injury lawyers at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata, Siegel, P.C. a call. We have extensive experience with clients who have suffered traumatic brain injuries. We practice personal injury law in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia.