At the start of 2019, Congress sought to showcase its “great concern” for brain injury, with Congresswoman Joyce Beatty’s (OH) introduction of H.R.280, the Concussion Awareness and Education Act of 2019. Cosponsored by 36 others, the Bill seeks, “to provide for systemic research, treatment, awareness, and dissemination of information with respect to sports-related and other concussions.” Specifically, it focuses on children, aged 5 to 21. It is an admirable goal to care for America’s children, but just like similar bills that seem to go through Congress every year, it just calls for research. Additionally, once introduced on January 8, the bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, where it still sits without action.
Citizens have expressed their concern over what they see as a lack of concern for the youth, but stateside, similar government pseudo-action seems to be present. For example, the Salt Lake Tribune wrote, “there’s a dirty little secret plaguing high school sports in Utah.” According to the newspaper, that “dirty little secret” is the incidence of concussions in high school sports. In Washington, S.R. 5238, which is currently being considered in State Congress, “would require UW Medicine to publish and maintain a website making… research available to parents,” – again, the government is proposing research, not action. (Some states have taken legislative action, though, by eliminating certain sports and certain actions in sports. A bill introduced to Congress in Maryland this month, for example, “would… prohibit cheerleaders age 12 and younger from engaging in aerial stunts.”)
As I have noted in the past, this heightened concern (and, perhaps, this seeming lack of federal action) may be the cause of the decreased sports enrollment in schools. While that is unfortunate, a positive outcome of this current parental concern could be a heightened concern for sports safety from school districts. Even without legal mandate, this could lead to a lower concussion percentage rate for the millions of American children who, theoretically, stay on the field and court.