Exciting news! Ctworkingmoms.com has been invited by the National Football League (NFL) to participate in a forum to discuss making youth sports safer. The event will be held next week at NFL headquarters in New York City. The panel of speakers for the event includes:

  • NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
  • Scott Hallenbeck, USA Football Executive Director
  • Dr. Elizabeth Pieroth, Board Certified Neuropsychologist, Head Injury Consultant to the Chicago Bears
  • Kelly Sarmiento, Health Communications Specialist, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The NFL has graciously invited four ctworkingmoms.com bloggers to attend the event. Christa, Kris-Ann, Jillian and I are all fortunate enough to attend the forum. We hope to have the opportunity to ask some important questions about increasing youth safety in various sports. Each of the four of us brings along a different perspective as well as different issues that we hope to address.

The NFL has been focused on improving the safety of the sport at all levels, from the professional level, down to beginner youth leagues. Commissioner Goodell has been proactive in improving the league’s image concerning issues of safety and codes of conduct. His self-proclaimed motto of “protecting the shield” includes improving the integrity of the game and making it safer. Goodell has not hesitated to suspend and fine various players and coaches for inappropriate behaviors both on and off the field.

Recently, the NFL has partnered with the Consumer Products Safety Commissioner Chair, Inez Tenenbaum, the players’ union, and the NCAA to form a pilot program for youth football leagues that will replace football helmets that have more than ten years of use. The program is hoping to donate 13,000 helmets to various youth leagues throughout the country this year.

Our own state of Connecticut has also been proactive on the front of improving the safety of youth sports. In 2010, Public Act 10-62, “An Act Concerning Student Athletes and Concussions” was passed by the Connecticut Legislature. This act: requires anyone who has a coaching permit issued by the State Board of Education (SBE) and who coaches intramural or interscholastic athletics to be periodically trained in how to recognize and respond to head injuries and concussions. It also requires such a coach to take a student athlete out of any interscholastic or intramural game or practice if the athlete (1) shows signs of having suffered a concussion after an observed or suspected blow to the head or body or (2) is diagnosed with a concussion. The coach must keep the athlete out of any game or practice until the athlete has received written clearance to return to the game or practice from a licensed medical professional. 

SBE must develop or approve initial and refresher concussion training courses and annually review materials in consultation with (1) the governing authority for intramural and interscholastic athletics, which is the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC), and (2) organizations representing licensed athletic trainers and county medical associations. Under the act, SBE may revoke the coaching permit of any coach who violates its requirements. Source: Connecticut Office of Legislative Research, Public Act Summaries, 2010.

Ctworkingmoms.com understands and appreciates why the NFL is concerned with parental feedback about improving the safety of youth sports, and we feel privileged to be given this wonderful opportunity. However, we aim to make this experience useful to our readers. We want to hear from you before we attend the event. Are there sport safety issues you would like us to address? Have you had either a positive or a negative experience with a youth sport injury that you would like to share? Have you had a positive or a negative experience with the NFL, with their marketing campaign, or with the products that they market to children?

Please share with us any issues that we can bring to NFL headquarters on your behalf.

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