Illinois athletic association says lawsuit threatens football

The Illinois High School Association says a concussions lawsuit filed against the organization last year is a “misguided effort that threatens high school football” across the state.

IHSAIHSA asked the judge to dismiss the suit in a 16-page motion filed in Cook County Circuit Court, according to The Associated Press. The lawsuit seeks court oversight in how schools handle head injuries, and it asks for a requirement that medical personnel be present at games and practices. It also requests that IHSA pay for medical testing for former Illinois high school football athletes beginning with those that played in 2002.

IHSA argues the mandates could make football too expensive for poorer schools.

From The AP:

Plaintiff attorney Joseph Siprut has said improving safety should help football survive, not lead to its demise. He said football is already in jeopardy because parents fearful of concussions are refusing to let their kids play, potentially drying up the talent pool.

College and professional football have faced a barrage of class-action lawsuits in recent years. But the one that names the IHSA as defendant is the first-of-its-kind against a high school football governing body. Each of the 50 states has its own governing body.

The IHSA’s new filing says it can’t be compared to the cash-rich NCAA and NFL. The IHSA has $10 million in yearly revenue to pay for more than 40 sports and activities statewide, and court-imposed mandates could be financially crippling, it argues.

The IHSA filing argues that designating a court-administered high school head-injury policy — rather than leaving it to the prep body, school boards and Illinois legislators — would be unwieldy.

“If a high school … fails to have a court-ordered medical professional at a football practice, how will such a violation of the Court’s injunction be remedied?” it asks. “Sanction the IHSA? The local school board? The principal? The athletic director? The coaches? All of the above?”

Former Notre Dame College Prep quarterback Daniel Bukal was the lead plaintiff in the suit when it was initially filed. In January, it was amended and former South Elgin High School lineman Alex Pierscionek took his place, according to The AP.

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