Gov. Christie signed legislation Tuesday concerning the prevention and treatment of concussions among student-athletes, but a representative of the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association said rules dealing with the situation already were in place.
Christie signed a bill to protect against concussions in student-athletes across New Jersey's interscholastic youth sports programs.
The bill adopts a multifaceted approach, requiring the state Department of Education to develop an interscholastic athletic head injury safety training program to be completed by school physicians, coaches, and athletic trainers of public and nonpublic school interscholastic sports programs.
In completing the bill, New Jersey joins Washington state, which led the way last year in passing what is considered the nation's strongest return-to-play statute.
Before the fall sports season, the NJSIAA established guidelines for all sports teams in dealing with concussions.
"Our rule states that if anyone, not just a coach, notices an athlete showing signs of a concussion, then the athlete must be removed and can't be reentered that day, even by a doctor," said Don Danser, the NJSIAA's assistant director.
From there, Danser said, the schools are required to come up with a policy to allow the student-athletes back to the playing field.
The NJSIAA has made several suggestions but leaves it up to the individual schools to make the policy. Those suggestions appear online at http://www.njsiaa.org.
"Not every school has the same medical ability, so we can't require them to have the same programs," Danser said. "They have to have some reasonable policy in place."
Tim Gushue, the football coach at Shawnee in Burlington County, praised the legislation but echoed what Danser said about having a program in place.
"It is absolutely a good rule, but it is what everybody has been instructed to do by the NJSIAA," Gushue said.
Gov. Christie signed the legislation at the New Meadowlands Stadium, home of the New York Giants and Jets. Among those in attendance were NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, New York Giants president and CEO John Mara, and New York Jets chairman and CEO Woody Johnson.
"We've all seen the tragic results that can occur from sports-related concussions in both student and professional athletes," Gov. Christie said. "It's our obligation and responsibility to put the health and safety of our children first, and use the best research and evidence to protect them in the most effective way possible."
In Pennsylvania, state Rep. Tim Briggs (D., Montgomery) introduced the Safety in Youth Sports Act, designed to establish standards for managing concussions and head injuries to student athletes. The bill passed in the House by a 169-29 vote.