In Boston: College games on, doctors present

City law says athletes who have or may have concussions cannot re-enter games

Boston is taking the lead in keeping college athletes safe during games.

Its city council recently approved the College Athlete Head Injury Gameday Safety Protocol—legislation that bans athletes who have or may have concussions from re-entering games and requires higher ed institutions to have an emergency medical action plan for host venues. Also, a neurotrauma consultant must be at all Division I football, ice hockey and men’s lacrosse matches in Boston.

A growing concern about the long-term effects of concussion among city and college officials led to the law’s passage.

“We’ve been paying attention to what’s been going on around the country, at all levels—youth, college and professional. There is a body of evidence showing underlying health risks,” says Daniel Sibor, chief of staff for Boston City Councillor Josh Zakim.

College athletes suffer higher rates of concussions and other head, neck and spine injuries than professional athletes, Sibor says.

Some institutions, including Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern and Harvard, already have medical staff on-site at games. Sibor says little will change for these schools.

“The neurotrauma consultant is there to support staff, not to make diagnostic decisions,” he adds. “The final call lies with the team’s medical staff, not the independent doctor.”

While the NCAA has recently passed guidelines that attempt to better protect college athletes, there was still no hard rule regarding dangerous head injuries. Boston’s law provides a “very basic” standard where there was none previously, Sibor says.

Other legislation under consideration would require college and universities to provide “comprehensive” year-round insurance for athletes and coverage of long-term medical expenses for former athletes, according to CBS Sports.

Most Popular