Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

Latest on Youth Concussions from American Academy of Pediatrics

The American Academy of Pediatrics just released an update on Sport-Related Concussions in Children and Adolescents. This 24-page report highlights the major developments in new concussion knowledge and treatment since the first report, which was published in 2010.

To follow are the points that I find to be of particular interest. Some the conclusions and actionable recommendations may be contrary to what is being disseminated by various bloggers and vendors of products related to concussions. But always remember that true science can be a very slow process and future studies may ultimately prove contrary results. If these topics are of interest, you should read the entire article for more information.

Concussions: Mechanical vs Chemical/Cellular Injury

There is no universally-accepted definition of a concussion and there are a wide range of symptoms which require individual management.

After a biomechanical injury to the brain due to either direct impact or whiplash effect, a cascade of chemical changes occur resulting in injury on a cellular level. Some of the medical terms for these are potassium efflux from neurons, increase in extracellular glutamate, upregulation of sodium-potassium ion pumps, depletion of intracellular injury reserves, and increased use of adenosine triphosphate and hyperglycolysis. All of these biochemical reactions result in decreased blood flow and increased energy demand which leads to an energy crisis.

In other words, concussions are a lot more complicated than just a bump to the head, making future research and studies necessary.

Rest After Concussions

After a concussion, an immediate reduction in physical and mental activity can be beneficial to recovery. However, prolonged restrictions of physical activities and delayed return to school can have negative effects on recovery and symptoms. A graduated return-to-play protocol should be followed under the supervision of a healthcare professional.

Reporting of Concussions Over the Past Decade

Studies indicate that the reporting of youth concussions has increased dramatically over the last decade with increases ranging from 57% to 200%. This is likely caused by the increased overall awareness of coaches, participants, and parents due to media exposure and education initiatives.

Concussions in Girls vs Boys

Female athletes are more likely to report symptoms to an authority figure than male athletes, despite Concussions in Girls soccerboth having the same knowledge.

Studies indicate that concussion rates from highest to lowest for boys are as follows: American tackle football, lacrosse, ice hockey, and wrestling. For girls: soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, and basketball.

Girls have higher concussion rates than boys in soccer and basketball.

The reasons that girls seem to be more susceptible are not entirely clear, but it has been suggested that it is due to weaker neck musculature and estrogen.

In school sports, for boys and girls combined, the following have the highest concussion rates: middle school tackle football, girls soccer, cheerleading, and girls basketball.

A study of youth tackle football for ages 8 to 12 indicates that the concussion rates are higher than in high school athletes and that 11 to 12 year olds have a nearly 2.5 increased risk as compared to 8 to 10 year olds.

Concussion incidence is higher in competition than in practice for males and females across nearly all sports.

Most Frequent Signs and Symptoms

Headache 86% to 96%
Dizziness 65% to 75%
Difficulty Concentrating 48% to 61%
Confusion 40% to 46%

Problems to Watch Out For in Post-concussion Diagnostic Tests

The most frequent sideline test used by athletic trainers is the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT) and is available in following forms: Child SCAT 5 (ages 5 to 12) and SCAT 5 (ages 13+). These tests, which only take about 10 minutes to perform, are being constantly updated. They consist of observable signs of concussion, symptoms assessment, memory questions, neurological assessment, and balance assessment.

Symptoms can mimic pre-existing problems such as migraine, headache disorders, learning disorders, ADHD, mental health conditions, and sleep disorders. As a result, the examiner should be informed of any such condition.

Some sideline diagnostic assessment tools and checklists are not appropriate for children ages 5 to 12. Younger athletes perform worse on questions such as naming months or numbers in reverse. Concussions in youth sportsVariations are available for younger children such as the Child SCAT 5..

Tests that measure visual deficits, such as the King-Devick Test, show promise but not enough evidence from studies yet to recommend their inclusion in the SCAT.

While healthcare professionals find sideline assessment tests to be helpful, they are not to be used in isolation in diagnosing a concussion. Not enough studies exist at this time to recommend widespread use in children. Also, the value of sideline tests is minimized without a baseline test for comparison. See HitCheck for an example of an affordable sideline assessment app.

Are CAT Scans and MRIs Necessary? Which One Is Superior?

CAT scans and MRIs are critical when a severe intracranial injury or structural lesion (skull fracture or hemorrhage) is suspected, but they are not effective in diagnosing a concussion. Despite this, the use of neuroimaging increased 36% between 2006 and 2011.

Recent literature indicates that it is highly unlikely that significant intracranial hemorrhaging occurs after six hours without a deterioration in the level of consciousness. As a result, prescribing a CT without any deterioration of consciousness after six hours is unlikely to be helpful.

When neuroimaging is necessary, CT’s are more cost effective and can usually be arranged more quickly. However, children’s exposure to radiation may increase the risk of certain cancers over the long term. After the emergency period is over, MRIs are superior to CTs in detection of cerebral contusion, petechial hemorrhage, and white-matter injury.

Baseline Neurocognitive Testing

Studies conducted independently by developers of paper and online testing platforms have questioned the reliability of baseline tests from year to year. It is important for the reviewer who compares baseline to post- injury tests to understand modifiers that could alter results, such as depression, lack of sleep, failure to take ADHD medication, and athletes with musculoskeletal injuries.

The best environment for baseline and post-injury testing is a quiet, distraction-free environment, which can be very difficult to achieve for most schools and organizations.

Concerns about athlete “sandbagging” and intentionally under-performing on baseline tests are exaggerated as this can be detected.

Neurocognitive tests should not be used as the sole determining factor in return-to-play decisions.

Retirement After Multiple Concussions

The decision to retire an athlete after multiple concussions should not be tied to any specific number of concussions.

An athlete who has suffered multiple concussions should be referred to a specialist with expertise in this area for guidance.

Prevention of Concussions: What Can Be Proven By Studies

  • Mouth guards: After an initial 1954 study suggesting a connection between mouth guards and reduction of concussions, several larger studies refuted this assertion. Evidence of an advantage of custom mouth guards over non-custom remains inconclusive.
  • Helmets: Helmets were designed to reduce severe injuries such as skull fractures, subdural Football helmets and concussionshematomas, and brainstem contusion or hemorrhage. The goal of reduction of concussions has not proven to be productive. Several studies show no difference between several brands and models of helmets, both new and refurbished, in terms of severity of symptoms, frequency, and recovery time. Helmet improvements are not likely to ever be the solution to the concussion problem.
  • Aftermarket Helmet Attachments: No study has ever shown that aftermarket helmet attachments such as pads, shock absorbers, and sensors prevent or reduce the severity of concussions. The use of sensors to clinically diagnose or assess concussions cannot be supported at this time and do not have a role in decision making. See our article “Add-on Helmet Products.”
  • Other Headgear: Soccer headgear has not proven beneficial in the reduction of head-to-head or head-to-ball impact. Such headgear may actually increase the incidence of injury by encouraging more aggressive play.
  • Education: Education and awareness of concussions has proven effective in diagnosing, treating, and making return-to-play decisions. This finding is consistent with Sadler Sports Insurance injury data on concussion rates in youth baseball and football prior to 2012 and after 2012.
  • Biomarkers: Biomarkers have been investigated in playing a role in concussion evaluation. These include predisposition factors, delayed recovery, and increased catastrophic risk. These investigations are preliminary and none have advanced to use in a clinical setting.
  • Supplements: Numerous supplements have been investigated as to playing a role in preventing or in speeding up the recovery time from concussions. There are currently no studies in humans to support a benefit from supplements.
  • Neck Strengthening: Strengthening the cervical muscles and activating those muscles prior to impact has been found to reduce forces from head impact. Poor neck strength has been shown to correlate with the incidence of concussions. One study showed that each additional pound of neck strength resulted in a 5% reduction in concussions.
  • Rule Changes: Rule changes and enforcement of rules by officials may help to reduce the likelihood of concussions. Recent initiatives in youth sports look promising. These include elimination of checking in ice hockey and heading soccer in younger age groups, and reducing contact in football practice.

I hope you enjoyed my summary of this very informative article. At Sadler Sport Insurance, we have an excellent risk management library on the topic of concussion and brain injury risk management that you should check out.


 

Overhydration in Sports Can Have Deadly Consequences

Players must adequately hydrate, but overdoing it can be life threatening

College and high school football teams across the country are currently conditioning and practicing for the upcoming football season. And they’re doing it in the hottest weeks of the summer.

In 2017, University of Texas coach, Tom Herman,  assessed the hydration level of players, and their dedication to the team, based on the color of their urine. The color color-coded chart he developed labeled players with deep-yellow urine “selfish teammates.” Orange to brown-colored urine signified players as “bad guys.”

While I don’t advocate such shaming, the color chart is useful as a risk managementtool. We refer to the importance of hydration and a urine color chart referred to in our article “Guide To Preventing Heat Stroke Death In Youth Tackle Football.”

But apparently fanatical adherence by some has led to the dangerous practice of overhydration. This is also known as exercise-associated hyponatremia. While it’s important that players be mindful of staying hydrated, “hydration shaming” has filtered into high school sports.

Since 2014, two high school football players died during August football practice from overhydration. One died after drinking two gallons of water and two gallons of Gatorade following practice. Ironically, there is no documentation of any football player dying from dehydration. However, since 2014, seven succumbed fatally to heatstroke.

A delicate balance

Overhydration results from drinking too much water or sports drinks, which dilutes the level of salt in the blood. The body fills with more fluids than it can expel through perspiration or urination.  The result is a swelling of all the cells in the body.

Sadly, the symptoms of hyponatremia are similar to those of dehydration. Overhydration can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, confusion, muscle cramps, and lead to coma and seizures. In addition to extreme thirst, dehydration can cause fatigue, dizziness and confusion.

Scientists know that the body self-regulates its water balance. All land mammals require water and have a thirst trigger hardwired into the brain that protects the balance between water and salt. When the trigger is ignored, dehydration occurs. Oversaturation of our thirst results in hyponatremia.

Proper hydration

Players must drink regularly throughout all physical activities, no matter the temperature. An athlete shouldn’t only rely on his or her sense of thirst to sufficiently maintain proper hydration.

  • Athletes should have a variety of fluids freely available and be free to drink whenever they feel thirsty.
  • Encourage athletes to drink 16 ozs. of fluid two hours before physical activity and to drink before, during and after practices and games.

The weather, the sport being played and the size of the athlete all determine how much one needs to drink. Tom Herman’s hydration chart (without the commentary) or similar,  is a good basic tool for assessing your athlete’s level of hydration.


Source: Tamara Hew-Butler. “Young athletes should stay hydrated, but too much water can be deadly.” cnn.com. 7 August 2018.

7 Simple Steps to Reduce Serious Risks in Youth Tackle Football/Cheer

And 3 important reasons to prevent / reduce insurance claims

Purchasing high-limit, high-quality, insurance such as that offered through the endorsed American Youth Football / American Youth Cheer (AYF/AYC) insurance program is just a starting point in protecting your youth and volunteers against injuries and lawsuits. And almost any league can qualify for membership in AYF/AYC to gain access to the endorsed insurance program. Although insurance pays for losses, the goal is to prevent or reduce the injury to a spectator or player so that it never results in an insurance claim.

Here are three important reasons to prevent / reduce insurance claims:

  1. People suffer when they are injured and miss time away from playing the game, school, or work.
  2. In the event of a serious injury, your program can suffer negative media coverage, which can have an impact on the success of your program.
  3. The loss record of the AYF/AYC insurance program must be protected against serious losses which will result in future rate increases.

Below are the seven most important risk management programs that should be formally adopted, distributed to staff, and implemented in order to protect against the most serious types of injuries:

1.  Sample AYF/AYC Risk Management Plan

Implement this comprehensive risk management program or similar to reduce the litigation risk at your locations and in all areas of your operations, including facilities, equipment, supervision, instruction, rules, injury response, sex abuse & molestation, and use of autos. It includes best practices and contractual transfer of risk through participant registration forms such as waiver/release and emergency information/medical consent. Also included are the use of insurance requirements and hold harmless/indemnification provisions in agreements with vendors and visiting teams.

2.  Sample Football/Cheer Brain Injury/Concussion Awareness Risk Management Program

Implement this program or similar to reduce your risk of litigation. Includes coach, parent, and player training on concussion recognition, removal from play, medical treatment, and return to play protocol. Also includes training on removing the head from the tackle through Hawks Tackling resources and practice restrictions.

3. Sample Sex Abuse/Molestation Protection Program (short form)

Implement this program or similar to reduce your risk of an incident. This program has been updated to address the new requirements of the recently-passed federal Safe Sport Act, which requires mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse to law enforcement within 48 hours, specific training on preventing the sexual grooming process, use of the “buddy system,” and a no-retaliation policy for the reporting of a suspicion.

4.  Guide to Preventing Heat Stroke Death in Youth Tackle Football  

Heat stroke death in youth tackle football is preventable if risk management best Heat illnesspractices are followed. These include but are not limited to use of wet bulb globe temperature meter (WBGT) to assist with cancellation or postponement decisions and cold water immersion. WBGT meter prices are falling and a meter can be obtained for as little as $114. However, the Weather FX app can be purchased for as little as $2 and creates a mathematical approximation of WBGT. Heat index is no longer the recommended decision making standard for sports postponement or cancellation decisions as it is inferior to WBGT.

5.  Lightning Safety and 30/30 Rule

This is perhaps the most overlooked safety rule in all of youth sports. Staff must be ready to step up and make the unpopular postponement/cancellation decision when conditions warrant.

6.  Use of 12- and 15-Passenger Vans

The use of 15-passenger vans to transport youth remains a popular but deadly practice in youth sports. Youth sports organizations must follow the lead of schools that have banned this practice and must opt for safer alternatives.

7.  Parade Float Risk Management for Sports Organizations

It’s hard to believe, but two of the largest claims suffered by our youth tackle football and cheer clients have been falls off parade floats. If you must have a parade float, follow these risk management precautions.

Running a youth tackle football and cheer association involves addressing serious risk. Ask yourself if are you taking these important steps to protect your youth and volunteers. Tap into our risk management resources to gain access to our free tools.

Ban Youth Tackle Football? No Way.

Knee-jerk legislation is NOT based on science

California, Illinois, Maryland and New York recently introduced legislation to ban youth tackle football prior to an unspecified age. These are knee-jerk reactions to concerns over chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). In my opinion, this is ridiculous and based on untested theories, not on current, peer-reviewed, scientific studies.

I try to be one of the few voices of reason in the panicky discussion of concussions and CTE in youth football. The media continually fuels the concussion conversation with emotionally-packed and hyperbolic statements. They do this because it sells and keeps readers/viewers tuned in, which is what their advertisers want. Also, many researchers need for youth tackle football to be “very dangerous” so their funding will continue to pour in.

My message, on the other hand, is the importance of risk management and relying on science. I never downplay the risk of concussions or the seriousness of such injuries. I urge my clients  to pay attention to peer-reviewed scientific research and not pay serious heed to unproven theories backed by anecdotal, non-scientific studies.

A good example is this recent study that found no clinically significant harmful association between playing football in high school and increased cognitive impairment or depression later in life.

New, credible voices being heard

Vindication of my stance can be found in the recent article “Does CTE call for an end to youth tackle football?” In it, 26 brain injury experts from 23 U.S. and Canadian universities and hospitals state what I’ve been saying for years. And they have the science to back it up.

One thing I learned is that CTE presents in approximately 12% of healthy people who died at an average age of 81 years.

The authors make many interesting points on the topic. But their bottom line is that there is no strong scientific evidence that links youth sports to brain injury, brain injury to CTE, and CTE to dementia. They refer to three recent studies published in peer-reviewed journals. None found any increased risk for long-term brain damage in older men who played high school football.

They encourage further research to understand the many different variables involved in CTE and to attempt to isolate participation in youth tackle football.

There’s more to it than tackling

Youth tackle football offers many benefits that factor into character development and good health:

  • Combating the obesity epidemic among youths who may not be interested in Youth sports insuranceplaying any other sport
  • Sparking a lifelong interest in exercise and physical fitness
  • Learning invaluable lessons through sports such as teamwork, sportsmanship and commitment.
  • Trading in unhealthy and unsafe after-school activities by at-risk youth for youth tackle football
  • Role modeling through adult administrators, coaches, and other staff.

And what about the other sports that have high rates of concussions such as hockey, rugby, lacrosse, and soccer? Could it be that politics is playing a role in zeroing in on football?

And why is the government getting involved in making decisions for parents when it comes to participation in youth tackle football?

There are others out there who think the same way I do. These doctors wrote their fact-based article so eloquently that I encourage you to read it in full for yourself.

Mainstream Media Continues to Stir Pot on Youth Football Concussion Risks

It’s time to employ our critical thinking skills

Just prior to the Super Bowl, NBC released its recent survey results on parental concerns about high school football-related concussions. Just know that NBC made a calculated move in doing so. Apparently NBC found it necessary to stir the pot while all’s abuzz about football —  because there aren’t enough alarmist opinions and articles already being pushed by the media on the subject.

The NBC/Wall Street Journal survey polled 900 adults between January 13 and 17. Approximately half those respondents were reached by cell phone,  which makes me wonder who these adults were. I mean, who answers their cell phone when they don’t recognize the caller’s number?
youth football insurance

NBC goes on to report statistics that supposedly prove nearly half of American parents have concussion-related concerns associated with high school football. Well, half those polled don’t have children in their homes. And that causes me to ask how current are they on the research being conducted?

The good news is that 49% apparently see no need to encourage a child to change sports for fear of a football concussion.

But the best news about this is that none of what the NBC/WSJ poll has to offer is credible, scientific research.  

Scientific research on high school football-related concussions

Rather than rely on dubious poll results (which can easily be skewed), let’s see what the science has to say.

Researchers specifically questioned whether an association exists between playing high school football and cognitive impairment and depression in 65-year-olds. The Journal of American Medical Association Neurology published their findings in August 2017.

The study included 3904 men averaging 64.4 years of age (not 900 random people). The cognitive and depression outcomes were found to be similar among those who played high school football and their counterparts who did not play. You can access the article here.

It’s important to remember that JAMA only publishes peer-reviewed articles. This means the quality of the research must pass the review of scholars knowledgeable in the subject area before accepted for publication. I’m not sure how much NBC or the Wall Street Journal actually know about high school-related football head injuries. Their news reports are reviewed by an editor, which is a type of peer-review, but not a scientific or scholarly one.

Don’t believe all the hype

I blog extensively on concussions, in football and other sports. I acknowledge that a concussion can be a serious injury and that CTE is a concern that requires additional research. But I also advocate for best risk management practices to lower the risk of any injury. I also present the facts that almost always contradict the hype stirred up in the mainstream media. The media makes money off the fear and controversy surrounding football-related concussions. It’s in their best interest to keep the conversation going.

What they aren’t talking about

What’s missing from media headlines is that all 50 states and the District of Columbia now have concussion laws on the books. And these laws are constantly being improved upon.Concussions in youth sports

They also don’t put on their front pages the the exponential growth in concussion awareness due to education. National sports associations have adopted brain injury and concussion risk management programs that key in on the essential elements of education, limitation of contact, concussion recognition, removal, and return-to-play protocols.

Parents, coaches, trainers and players are getting the information they need to be informed decision makers. The number of concussions in youth football and other contact sports is not increasing. Concussion awareness now results in more concussions being reported and treated.

For further reading

Below is a list of just a few of the articles from our blog that offer credible information to counter the constant flow of hype. Compare them and their sources to the fear-inducing and hyperbolic news reports like the one published by NBC this week. Draw you own conclusions.
Better yet, we invite you to read this like-minded opinion from a well-respected scientist and member of the scholarly  community.


Sources:

Verbal Abuse, Violence Driving Umpires/Referees Out of Sports

Officials cite verbal abuse and threats as reason for decline

The Washington Post recently ran a story on the shortage of referees in youth sports. It spotlighted several former game officials recounting their many negative experiences. These included instances of verbal abuse by players, coaches and parents, feeling threatened physically, and lack of support from league and school administrators.

One D.C.-area baseball official assigning group is reporting it’s lowest number of umpires in over 25 years. Only 50% of their first-year umpires return to the job. About 20% of those officiating for five to seven years come back. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, just two out of every 10 officials across all sports return for a third year.

Youth soccer, in particular, suffers from a decline in referees, even as player participation continues to rise year after year. Incidences of red cards remains static. But the number of red cards for filthy and abusive language, often directed at officials, has doubled in the past year.

There’s no reason to expect this trend to change any time in the foreseeable future. The increasing referee shortage means even more game cancellations in the future than are already being experienced.

The responsibility of administrators

High school assistant football coach Scott Hartman told of being verbally attacked by players and their coach following a call he made. After the game, parents and fans hurled insults at the other officials and him. The school’s director of student activities escorted them to their cars, but chastised the referees for missing several possible fouls by the opposing team.

You’re the exact reason that we’re losing referees, and you’re the reason that parents and coaches are out of control,” Hartman told him.

Hartman points out that there are schools that make maintaining decorum a priority.

But many administrators are obviously more concerned about wins and losses, not holding coaches accountable for poor behavior.

Virginia’s Commonwealth Soccer Officials Association (CSOA) conducted inspections at Northern Virginia high schools. Loud vocal disapproval was observed in 85% of the 42 matches observed. Of those, profanity by spectators was involved in 20%.
Not surprisingly, female officials suffer all this and more. Many say they encounter sexism at nearly every event, are spat upon and called whores. “I’ve been called that and worse in at least a dozen languages” said long-time soccer official Thea Bruhn.

A tolerant environment

Officiating organizations are accused of encouraging referees to tolerate behavior by fans, players and parents. Other say coaches even dictate to officiating organizations which referees will work certain games.

Personal and advertising injuryOther factors include travel leagues that are full of aggressive parents making demands as they push for college scholarships. And young athletes observe admired professional players berating referees and exhibiting poor sportsmanship.

To participate in games, umpires and referees frequently have to leave their day jobs early and travel good distances. They often return home lateat night. Pay for youth rec through varsity-level leagues ranges from $25 to $65 per game. It’s no wonder many are deciding they’re no longer willing to sacrifice their time and energy when they’re shown so little regard.

We encourage officials to read Referee & Umpire Insurance. For more information or quote on Referee & Umpire Insurance please call us at (800) 622-7370.


Source:  Nick Ellerson.  “Verbal abuse from parents, coaches is causing a referee shortage in youth sports.” washingtonpost.com. 16 June 2017.

12 Critical Steps to Protect Youth Football Players

A common-sense approach to reducing liability

1.  Buy high-limit, high-quality team/league insurance

 At a minimum, purchase the following policies to assure a funding source for player injuries:

  • Excess Accident: $100,000 medical limit; $5,000 AD&D limit, deductible no greater than $500
  • General Liability: $1,000,000 each occurrence limit; $1,000,000 participant liability limit; includes custom coverage enhancements for sex abuse/molestation and non-owned and hired auto liability and does not include exclusion for brain injury.

See our-endorsed AYF insurance program for an example of an affordable, high quality insurance program that almost any league can access.

2.  Train coaches in the fundamentals of tackle football

A comprehensive online training program is essential in educating coaches on the basic needs of youth and the fundamentals of tackle football.  It makes sense that the better programs that invest in comprehensive coach training will be more safety conscious. The Datalys study by Kerr draws the conclusion that comprehensive coach education combined with practice contact restrictions may help lower injury rates.

3.  Provide basic concussion education training for coaches 

All coaches should be required to complete a basic concussion education course every two years. Completion documents should be retained at the team/league/association level. The National Alliance for Youth Sports has an excellent basic education program available free of charge. I like the NAYS program better than the similar program offered by the CDC. I think it’s organized more intelligently. 

4.  Limit full contact at practices

Intelligently-designed practices have always emphasized non-contact drills and skill development over full contact. An analysis of the above-mentioned Datalys Study indicates that limitation of full contact at practice is perhaps the most effective way to reduce brain injury exposure in youth tackle football. Governing bodies suggest limiting of full-speed head-on tackling or blocking drills to a starting distance of three yards or less. In addition, full contact as defined by “thud” and “live action” should be limited to 60 or 90 minutes per week. 

5.  Follow the concussion protocols recommended by governing bodies and mandated by certain state legislatures that key in on the following elements:

  • Coach education on concussion basics and tackling techniques. 
  • Parent concussion education through CDC handouts.

 Written policies on procedures on how to:

  • identify suspected cases of concussions
  • mandatory removal from play if concussion is suspected
  • return-to-play protocols

See our Football/Cheer Brain Injury Risk Management Program for a sample brain injury risk management awareness program with links to important sources.

6.   Train coaches in Hawks tackling technique and instill a no-tolerance policy for bad hits

Governing bodies strongly recommend the Hawks tackling technique, which quietly replaced the awkward “heads up” technique originally endorsed by USA Football. See our Hawks Tackling Resource page for more information on the Hawks technique.

Instill a no-tolerance policy for illegal and head-first hits. Coaches should not look the other way when this occurs and should bench players to let them know this will not be tolerated.
Football helmets and concussions

7.  Proper fitting of helmets

Helmets should be fitted strictly according to the manufacturer’s instructions. A improperly fitted helmet will not provide the same protection as a properly fitted helmet. 

8.  Follow manufacturer specifications for maintaining and retiring helmets

Liability risk can be reduced by following manufacturer instructions regarding helmet modification, reconditioning, and replacement. Detailed information can be found under our AYF/AYC Sample Risk Management Program in the equipment section.

9.  Baseline neurocognitive and post-event testing

In the past, baseline and post-event neurocognitive testing was expensive and difficult to administer. It took about 30 minutes and required a classroom setting with PCs. A new entrant into the market, HitCheck, introduced affordable sideline testing, which can be completed on a smart phone or tablet in about 10 minutes.

10.  Implement mandatory heat illness protocols 

Heat illness is one of the leading killers of youth football players. It is preventable in most cases if coaches are properly educated and recommended guidelines are followed. 

11.  Implement sex abuse / molestation controls

Mandatory criminal background checks on all staff with access to youth is a critical requirement, but just a starting point. We provide educational resources on types of criminal background checks and background check vendors. However, it’s estimated that less than 10% of sexual predators have discoverable backgrounds. You need to ask yourself what you’re doing to protect your kids against the other 90%. We provide a comprehensive educational program on creating a hostile environment. It includes policies and procedures to make an incident less likely to occur and a requirement to notify law enforcement if an incident is suspected. 

12.  Document all of the above in writing with risk management awareness programs

Here are our most popular free risk management programs for youth tackle football and cheer: 

  • Concussion/Brain Injury Risk Management Program: This sample program incorporates the proven techniques to reduce brain injury exposure as well as common requirements by state legislatures.
  • Sample AYF/AYC Risk Management Program includes Sex Abuse/Molestation: This general risk management program keys in on reducing risk in terms of facilities, equipment, supervision, instruction, sports injury care, and use of autos. It also includes a section on sex abuse/molestation education and risk management.
  • Lightning 30/30 Safety Rule: This is possibly the most abused safety rule in sports. Administrators and officials must make the unpopular call to postpone and evacuate when the rule is triggered. 
  • Before You Sign the Facility Lease Agreement: Agreements with facility owners are subject to negotiation. Don’t let them impose heavy-handed requirements that make you and your insurance carrier responsible when they are negligent. Learn how to recognize pitfalls and tips for negotiation. 
  • Collecting Certificates of Insurance From VendorsAll vendors, including security, officials associations, janitorial, field maintenance, concessions, etc., expose your association to liability due to their negligence. Require them to carry their own insurance so yours does not take the hit when they are negligent.  
  • 12- and 15-Passenger VansDon’t use these types of vehicles to transport participants due to their tip-over propensity.

 If you have any questions about how to protect your youth football and cheer participants or how to get an instant insurance quote, please call us at 800-622-7370 or visit us at www.sadlersports.com/ayf.

New Device Shows Promise in Preventing Concussions

Unlike helmets, Q-Collar enhances brain’s existing protection from inside

At Sadler Sports and Recreation we keep our eye out for concussion-related news. We’re very careful to share well-researched information and not fan the flames of concussion hysteria. Our focus is reducing concussions during the course of play, not instilling fear of concussions.

That being said, I recently learned of an innovative product currently being tested as a concussion prevention device. Dr. Gregory Myer of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Division of Sports Medicine is conducting tests on the Q-Collar, which controls blood flow to the athlete’s head.

The Q-Collar approaches concussion prevention differently than helmets.  A helmet can help reduce the force of impact. However, it can’t keep the brain from moving around within the skull, which the Q-collar appears to do.

How it works

The c-shaped Q-Collar fits around the athlete’s neck, which exerts slight pressure on the jugular veins. These veins are the blood’s main pathway from the head back to the heart. The collar mildly increases blood volume in the cranium so the brain fits more snugly, reducing its ability to slosh about. In other words, the increased blood volume acts as an airbag for the brain.

The most recent test participants are high school football players and female soccer players. Earlier tests included high school hockey players. The study results show a potential approach to protecting the brain from changes sustained during participants’ competitive seasons, according to Myer. He is continuing his research  and data analyzation, but is optimistic that the device could be a game-changer in concussion prevention.


Source: Elise Jesse. “New ‘collar’ being tested in Cincinnati could prevent concussions.” www.wlwt.com. 17 Aug.2017.

2018 Insurance Program Released for American Youth Football

AYFThe gold standard that is the envy of the competition

The American Youth Football and American Youth Cheer endorsed insurance provider, Sadler Sports Insurance, released the new 2018 insurance program for teams /associations /conferences on May 15, 2018.

The 2018 offering is, once again, the gold standard in youth football and cheer insurance with an unbeatable combination of low rates, broad custom coverages, and best-in-industry automation that allows instant online enrollment and issuance of proof of coverage documents and certificates for field owners. But that’s not all: the program also provides best-in-industry risk management resources to prevent injuries before they become claims and groundbreaking studies on safety in youth football and cheer.

Apply, pay, and print proof of coverage documents and certificates in as little as 10 minutes

Our advanced automation is so simple and fast that you can complete the entire insurance purchase transaction and print all your documents in as little as 10 minutes. Many competitors require the completion of forms and days of waiting just to get a quote. Then, once the quote is bound, it can take several days to get the proof of coverage documents and certificates for field owners. Or, they could charge $100 extra for next day rush delivery.

After the purchase, we provide our clients access to our website so that they can self-issue certificates for new field owners 24/7. It’s so easy and our clients love this benefit.

Competitors take major rate increases

Most of our competitors have taken major increases over the past several years due to concussion litigation as well as other losses. However, our program remains stable with an average 2018 rate increase on the Accident/General Liability of only 3%. We will have no rate increase on our D&O, Crime, and Equipment policies.

What is being done to combat the risk of concussion/brain injury and related litigation?

Sadler Sports Insurance provides a sample Football/Cheer Concussion Awareness Risk Management Program (short form) that is strongly recommended for all teams/associations/conferences. This free program can be found under the risk management section of our AYF Insurance page. This program consolidates accepted risk management practices into a three-page document for easy board adoption and implementation. We recommend coaches complete the AYF coaching education program. Certification is required of head football and cheer coaches participating in AYF national championships. We also encourage coaches, volunteers and players view our Seahawks’ tackle resources page which demonstrates their tackling methods. AYF has provided a certification test to take in conjunction with this video on myafy.com. It is important for all teams/association/conferences to thicken their shields by adopting and fully implementing a comprehensive concussion/brain injury risk management program. The future of our sports depends on this action and it’s the right thing to do to protect the kids.

Check out our new risk management reports

We developed the following risk management reports to keep our clients up to date in critical areas:

Guide To Preventing Heat Stroke Death In Youth Tackle Football This comprehensive awareness training article was produced as a result of a recent heat illness death.

New Safe Sport Act Applies To Most Amateur Sports Organizations This new federal act signed into law in February of 2018 increases the standard of care required to protect youth against child abuse, molestation, and other forms of misconduct.

SafeSport Child Abuse And Other Misconduct Risk Management Plan We developed this risk management awareness program for our leagues to help them comply with the new Safe Sport Act standards.

Parade Float Risk Management For Sports Organizations Two of our largest claims have arisen out of parade float accidents where participants have fallen from floats and have been run over resulting in significant injuries. This article will help to reduce the risk of future parade float accidents.

Best-in-industry risk management resources (free)

We have an incredible line up of free risk management resources including articles, legal forms, risk management program templates for your easy adoption and customization, and training videos for administrators and staff. This includes the newly created document entitled Sample AYF/AYC Advanced Plan, which is a comprehensive risk management program customized for AYF/AYC organizations.

Be a part of groundbreaking injury studies

If you purchase your insurance through the endorsed insurance program, all Accident claims automatically become part of the database where our custom software analyzes the information to produce meaningful injury reports. This has led to groundbreaking studies on the comparison of injuries in age only vs age/weight categories and the incidence of concussions within AYF/AYC.

Get Quote Now

Please visit our webpage at www.sadlersports.com/ayf or call us at 800-622-7370 if you have any questions.

 

Refuting Reports of Increased Concussion Rates in Youth Sports

Looking at the facts

Reckless reporting and alarmist headlines about rising concussion rates in youth sports are a pet peeve of mine. Parents, athletes, coaches and league administrators deserve to have the facts presented responsibly on such a serious topic.

The headline on a recent article by a doctor screamed “Concussion rates are rising among U.S. youth.” What the doctor didn’t say in the article is that concussion rates are NOT rising; concussion reporting is rising.

Our internal Accident insurance claim statistics reveal the following increases in the reporting of concussion claims as a percentage of total claims reported:

Sport

Youth baseball

Youth football

Concussion rates prior to 2012

2.96%

7.89%

Concussion rates 2012-16

8.01%

15.88%

The significant increases in concussion claims reported over these time periods have nothing to do with change in the risk factors in these two sports over this time period. These increases have everything to do with educational awareness.

We have concussion education efforts and concussion laws on the books in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to thank for that. These efforts have brought about a heightened awareness of concussion recognition, initial diagnosis and treatment, and return to play monitoring. The increase in the number of reported concussions only reflects how many youth athletes were walking around with undiagnosed concussions in the past.

Promoting educational awareness and risk management

Over a year ago, I wrote about the need for increased efforts in concussion education, stating, “Fear of concussion among many parents is affecting their decision to permit their children to participate in contact sports.” And nearly two years ago, I said in an article addressing the media’s concussion hype,  “The best outcome is the awareness being brought to the general puConcussion risk managementblic about diagnosis, second-impact syndrome, removal, and return-to-play policies.“

I’m pleased to see that all this awareness resulting in more athletes getting the medical care necessary, which enables them to return to playing after treatment and full recovery. The Center for Disease Control’s HEADS UP offers many resources to help parents, coaches, administrators, and healthcare providers recognize, respond to, and minimize the risk of concussions or other serious brain injuries.

We’re proud to continually provide up-to-date and credible information on sports concussions and a variety of sports injury and risk management-related topics on our blog.


Source: Brad C. Gollinger. “Concussion rates are rising among U.S. youth.” www.recordonline.com. 07 Mar., 2017.