Teams prepare for first season under new youth concussion law

Published: Aug. 17, 2013 at 1:45 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 27, 2013 at 1:45 AM EDT
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Governor Nikki Haley signing Youth Concussion Law
Governor Nikki Haley signing Youth Concussion Law

RICHLAND COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Bright lights, an excited crowd, and some team spirit. A perfect recipe for Friday night Football and the athletes who wear those numbers with pride.

"My favorite part is the uncertainty, right before the season," said Ridge View High School Head Football Coach Raymond Jennings. "Some people call it nervousness and goose bumps. It's just excitement."

It's an energy Jennings says makes it all worth it. Jennings is getting ready to start a new season at Ridge View. And while winning is a priority, safety is also always in the lineup.

"If we're in a situation where we're excited I make sure I always tell them to protect themselves, keep their head up, see what they hit," he said.

Working to prevent sports related injuries like concussions and treat them is key. This summer, the state of South Carolina recognized this need as well. Governor Nikki Haley signed the Youth Concussion Law Thursday.

The law requires on-site exams, removal of athletes who appear to have suffered a concussion, and education.

Ridge View's physical trainer Sean Hoppe said the law won't change what they do when a student is injured. But provides liability coverage, additional education, and the requirement for  parents to sign permission slips.

"I think the biggest factor goes with the school district and smaller schools that don't have certified athletic trainers, and those are really the kids who need the protection," said Hoppe.

But even for schools with professionals like Hoppe, Coach Jennings says the more he knows, the better. Especially when it comes to dangers his players could face on the field.

"We have to recognize the signs," he said. "And that's the biggest part about educating and realizing when their kid is not acting normal so we can get them out of harms way, getting him out of the game and getting him to a medical professional."

South Carolina is the 49th state to pass a youth concussion law.  The only state that is left is Mississippi.

Three youth concussion bills were introduced in the state last year but none of them advanced.

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