For more on high school football, follow Justin Kenny on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/jkenny_ns
Earlier this week, Indiana became the first state in the country to require youth football coaches, including high school head coaches, to undergo concussion identification training.
The law is historic in its scope of addressing the growing concern of football players at the high school level and below regarding those with concussions returning to action too soon or the concussions going undiagnosed altogether.
“It is serious business,” Bishop Luers coach Kyle Lindsay said about the concussion issue. “Without a doubt, things have changed (since I played).”
The law states that coaches will be required to be properly trained to identify concussions and other safety issues, including heat stroke. Coaches will need to take a test showing they understand the course content.
The requirements take effect July 1.
The effects on area programs and school systems are expected to be minimal as many already have proper protocol in place regarding the diagnosis and treatment of concussions. East Allen County Schools and Fort Wayne Community Schools have required all of their athletics coaches go through a program to be properly certified in concussion diagnosis.
Bishop Luers had its football coaches attend a course last summer, anticipating the new law.
“It is obviously important to get information out there and be watchful,” Leo coach Jared Sauder said.
Education and awareness regarding concussions at the youth level have continued to expand. Sauder feels the most growth in terms of learning about the injury and its symptoms has not come among the coaching ranks.
“The biggest difference is parents are more aware of the seriousness of it,” Sauder said. “We get more parents saying, 'Hey, he has a headache,' so we are able to be safe and have him get it checked out.
“The biggest change has been some of the smaller symptoms that are harder to catch … we are catching (now).”
The new law is big news, but concussions are already treated seriously by many high school coaches.
“If you're not starting to come around in today's world with concussions and heat illnesses, you're probably behind most of us,” Lindsay said.
Lindsay remembers he was knocked out of a regional game as a sophomore in 1999 with a concussion but played a week later in semistate.
“Today, that probably wouldn't happen,” Lindsay said.
New laws like this one will make sure concussions continue to be diagnosed and treated better than they were in the recent past.