As hard as it may be to believe, Texas' University Interscholastic League (UIL) has some of the most relaxed guidelines in the nation when it comes to evaluating concussions. While most states required you to sit out at least a game and show no symptoms of a concussion before returning to the field, the current UIL rules have always stated that you must sit out for 15 minutes and be free of concussion-like symptoms before returning to the field.
Given the increase in concussions across the nation in recent years, this rule was clearly one that needed to be changed -- especially in a state like Texas where high school sports -- and football in particular -- are a full-fledged way of life. Thankfully, the UIL decided to change their concussion protocol on Monday; the new rule now requires high school athletes to sit out at least one game and be cleared by a healthcare professional before returning to the field.
Having to clear a concussion with a professional is probably the most important change to the new rules. It's estimated that nearly 130,000 high school athletes suffer a concussion every year, but only half of them are actually reported.
The lack of reported concussions is a troubling statistic, but when you consider the fact that a lot of these kids are fighting for a place in the starting lineup, the concept that many might not report the concussion and return to the field too soon doesn't seem like a stretch. As one might assume, most don't understand the repercussions of returning to the field too soon following a serious head injury like a concussion.
"It just puts everybody on the same page — having standards and making sure those standards are met before they return to the court or the field," Fort Worth ISD athletic director Kevin Greene told WFAA.com.
Fort Worth ISD was one of a handful of school districts in the state that had already put strict concussion policies in place. Now every public and private school in the state will have to live up to the same guidelines. You can only hope the new rules, which go in place on August 1, will help protect the well-being of Texas high school athletes in the years to come.
One thing is certain: The new protocol certainly can't hurt.