By Justin Polk
Meridian Times staff writer
Over the past decade, there has been an effort to make sports safer. Yet, whether it be non-contact sports or new helmets, there is still going to be a risk of concussion.
“Concussions are a serious matter,” said Haslett High School Athletic Director Darin Ferguson. “If we do not protect our athletes then we are not doing a good enough job.”
Ferguson presented the board with information about the new Michigan State Law that will affect all schools and coaches (Michigan Law Public Acts 342 and 343) which has been in effect since June 30 2013.
“Haslett already has a concussion protocol,” said Ferguson. “The law will not force us to change what we do too much.”Ferguson explained to the board that Haslett has a program in place with Angela Price, athletic trainer for the high school. The plan includes a baseline test that all student athletes are required to take. The test will be administered the students freshmen and junior year or the students first year playing a school sponsored sport. Ferguson also explained the Michigan High School Athletic Association has separate rules about concussions.
“The MHSAA requires coaches to attend a rules meeting where they learn about concussions,” Ferguson explained. “As a result, the coaches are covered during the season. But, during the offseason, they are not covered under the MHSAA.”
Haslett Trustee Chris Coady asked how it would affect classes like physical education or gym. Ferguson explained that the same protocol prevents students from participating in any physical activity until cleared by their physician or Price.
“If they receive a concussion and are not cleared,” said Ferguson. “They cannot play. It is a safety issue.”
Superintendent Michael Duda made it clear that concussions can happen in any sport or even during recess.
“Even though football enrollment is down, we cannot just focus on the one sport,” said Duda. “Injuries can happen in any other sport.”
“Sports like volleyball and soccer can be more dangerous than football,” said Ferguson after the meeting. “While there are rules in place to avoid injuries, the lack of protection is still a major concern.”