Sudbury Youth Football and Cheer (SYFC) recognizes the potential danger and long-term health consequences of concussions as an often difficult to diagnose injury. SYFC is committed to taking concrete steps to mitigate concussions and to educate coaches, parents, players and cheerleaders to recognize the signs of concussion.
To that end, this Policy provides for the following:
1. Optional base-line testing for each football player and cheerleader;
2. Limitations on the amount of contact permitted during football practice;
3. Required education for Coaches, Parents, players and cheerleaders;
4. Requirements for returning a player or cheerleader with a head injury to practice or a game; and
5. Reporting requirements for diagnosed concussions.
This Policy is for Coaches, Parents, players and cheerleaders but is to be shared with any other adults or participants in SYFC. While there is no way to eliminate the risk of concussion from any sport, the goal of this Policy is to mitigate that risk and to raise awareness.
II. Base-line Testing
Beginning with the 2013 season, SYFC will offer free base-line concussion testing to each football player and cheerleader from grade 5 through grade 8. Although optional, SYFC strongly encourages you to take advantage of this testing offer.
Base-line testing is a computerized exam utilized in many professional, collegiate, and high school sports programs across the country to successfully diagnose and manage concussions. If an athlete is believed to have suffered a head injury during competition, this test is used to help determine the severity of head injury and when the injury has fully healed.
The computerized exam is given to athletes before beginning contact sport practice or competition. This non-invasive test is set up in a “video-game” type format and takes about 20-30 minutes to complete. It is simple, and many athletes actually enjoy the challenge of taking the test. It tracks information such as memory, reaction time, speed, and concentration.
If a concussion is suspected, the athlete should re-take the test. Both the preseason and post-injury test data can be given to your family doctor to help evaluate the injury. Test data will also help the health professionals to determine when return-to-activity is appropriate and safe for the injured athlete.
The testing procedures are non-invasive, and they pose no risks to the athlete. We are excited to implement this program given that it provides health professionals with information for managing concussions and helping to prevent potential brain injury that can result from multiple concussions. SYFC administration and coaching staffs are striving to keep your child’s health and safety at the forefront of the athletic experience.
The following providers can provide your child with the test free of charge:
Center for Sports Rehab and Specialty Services
57 ORNAC, Unit 1B
Concord, MA 01742
Tel: (978) 287-8200
(In addition to the base-line test, Emerson will also administer two balance tests.)
Child Development Network
76 Bedford Street, Suite 12
Lexington, MA 02420
Tel: (781) 861-6655
You will need to contact the provider directly and identify yourself as a SYFC participant. In order to receive the free testing, you must have registered and paid for the 2013 season. SYFC encourages you not to wait until right before practice begins in August as there will undoubtedly be a higher number of participants seeking appointments at that time.
III. Limitations on Contact in Football Practice
SYFC believes that football players can learn the game of football and remain highly competitive in competition without excessive contact drills in practice.
Indeed, studies have shown that a player is more likely to sustain a head injury in practice than in a game. Starting with the 2013 football season, SYFC has implemented the following restrictions on contact during football practice:
1. Full contact shall be limited to 40 minutes per 2 hour practice, except during a week in which there is an organized scrimmage (against another team or between two Sudbury teams in the same grade), in which case contact shall be limited to 1/3 of the total practice time that week inclusive of the scrimmage time.
2. No full speed head-on blocking or tackling drills in which the players line up more than 3 yards apart are permitted. (Having two players in stances immediately across the line of scrimmage from each other and having full-speed drills where the players approach each other at an angle, but not straight ahead into each other, are permitted).
3. Intra-squad scrimmaging is permitted provided the total amount of contact does not exceed 40 minutes in a 2 hour practice.
A. Coaches (Football and Cheer)
All Coaches, on their own time, will watch in its entirety one of the following two educational videos each year:
1. Concussion in Sports – What you Need to Know” developed by The
National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS); or
2. “Heads Up: Concussion in Youth Sports Online Concussion Training” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Coaches will be required to submit proof that they completed the training
Before each season, all Coaches will be given a copy of CDC’s “Heads Up: Concussion in Youth Sports, A Fact Sheet for Coaches” document or a similar document to be approved by SYFC.
B. Parents (Football and Cheer)
When a Parent registers his/her player or cheerleader they will be required to check a box agreeing to the following: “If my child is diagnosed with a concussion resulting from a SYFC activity or from any other activity, including those outside SYFC, I will inform my child’s Coach of such diagnosis before my child returns to practice or play.”
At the start of each season, Parents will receive an e-mail from SYFC that includes:
1. A brief explanation of our policy and the importance of the Parent’s role in understanding it;
2. A link to the Policy on the SYFC web site;
3. An electronic copy of CDC’s “Heads Up: Concussion in Youth Sports, A Fact Sheet for Parents” document or a similar document to be approved
by SYFC; and
4. A link to each of the two approved education videos mentioned above.
C. Players and Cheerleaders
All players and cheerleaders will be given a copy of CDC’s “Heads Up: Concussion in Youth Sports, A Fact Sheet for Players” document. During the first week of practice, the Head Coach will review this fact sheet with his/her team.
V. Injury and Return to Play
A player or cheerleader who is suspected of sustaining a concussion or a head injury in a practice, game or competition shall be removed from practice, play or competition at that time. SYFC’s required approach to any suspected head injury is “WHEN IN DOUBT, SIT THEM OUT.” As promptly as practicable following such removal, the Coach will notify the Parent of the athlete of the occurrence of the injury and of the need for medical clearance before returning to activity. Any player or cheerleader who has been removed from practice, play or competition due to a head injury or suspected concussion may not return to play until the player or cheerleader has been evaluated by a currently licensed medical professional and receives written clearance to return to activity on the SYFC approved form from that licensed practitioner.
VI. Reporting of Diagnosed Concussions
The Head Coach is required to report any diagnosed concussions to the SYFC President who will track the number of diagnosed concussions in a season.