Bill aims to protect young athletes

WASHINGTON – A bill aimed at preventing youth concussions has been introduced in the U.S. Senate.

The Youth Sports Concussion Act of 2013 requires the creation of up-to-date safety standards for helmets and other protective sports equipment and clamps down on manufacturers using deceptive safety claims to sell their products to concerned parents, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said.

“Communities across West Virginia come alive on football Friday nights and summer evenings at the baseball and softball fields. Those are traditions worth celebrating and preserving,” Rockefeller said. “But we have to do absolutely everything we can to make sure our children are safe playing the games they love.”

The act would direct the Consumer Product Safety Commission to review a study from the National Academies of Science on youth concussions to consider new safety standards for sports equipment if manufacturers do not update their industry standards and provide the Federal Trade Commission with the authority to consider rules that prohibit false safety claims about sports equipment.

“Far too many parents are deceived by sports equipment manufacturers who make outrageous claims about their products’ abilities to prevent or alleviate concussions,” Rockefeller said. “These parents, who are raising active and healthy children they love and want to keep safe, are being manipulated by a handful of bad actors. This has to stop.”

Rockefeller is chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. In 2012, he organized a discussion in Shepherdstown with medical experts, sports professionals, coaches and parents during Youth Sports Safety Month about the causes and impacts of concussions and head injuries in young athletes.

The roundtable came after a Commerce Committee hearing that reviewed the issue of concussions in sports and the marketing of “anti-concussion” or “concussion-reducing.”

More than 300,000 high school athletes playing the most popular sports were diagnosed with concussions in 2011-2012, Rockefeller said. Researchers have found that children and adolescents are particularly susceptible to concussions and once concussed, the likelihood of suffering another increases each time.

Organizations that have endorsed the Youth Sports Concussion Act are the National Football League and the NFL Players Association, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball and MLB Players Association, the U.S. Soccer Federation, U.S. Lacrosse, Major League Soccer and the Major League Soccer Players Union, National Collegiate Athletic Association, USA Hockey, the National Federation of State High School Associations, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Neurology, the Brain Injury Association of America, the Brain Trauma Foundation, the Cleveland Clinic, the Consumers Union, the Consumer Federation of America, the National Consumers League, the National Association of State Head Injury Administrators and Safe Kids