Maryland concussion bill seeks suspensions for coaches

A proposal in Maryland seeks mandatory suspensions for high school coaches who knowingly put a concussed athlete back into a game.

State law already requires a doctor’s clearance before athletes return to action following a head injury, and the latest proposal would strengthen penalties for coaches who ignore protocol.

According to a report from WTOP, the bill would allow a school board to suspend a coach at the recommendation of the superintendent. A first violation would ban the coach for the season, a second would result in a ban for the current and following seasons, and a third would lead to a permanent ban from all athletic coaching. There would be an appeals process where coaches are entitled to a hearing before the board.

From WTOP:

Testifying (in favor of the bill) was Dr. Timothy Romanoski who specializes in sports medicine and is one of the team doctors for the Chesapeake Bayhawks, a pro men’s field lacrosse team based in Annapolis.

“If you suffer one concussion, you’re now at risk for another concussion,” Romanoski said. “Repeated concussions can lead to chronic headaches, chronic fatigue and other medical illnesses. That includes CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, “which is what we’re seeing it a lot in our older NFL players,” he added.

Romanoski said he’s seen firsthand the pressures coaches face.

“During my training in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, I would have parents come up to me knowing full well that their kid has a concussion and berate me, berate the coaches to get the kid back into play, because ‘they’re being scouted’, ‘it’s their final game’, (or) ‘these are their glory days’,” he said.

It’s reasonable to assume that the law would add a new level of protection for coaches. They could push back against parents by arguing that a violation of protocol could cost them their jobs. 

The proposal is currently in committee. Click here to read more on this story.

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