Two Pennsylvania high school basketball teams got schooled during a game Thursday night, but it wasn’t by a wicked crossover or fancy no-look pass.
After two players collided on the court, both Highlands and Freeport High Schools got an education on a little-known Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association player safety rule.
According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Jamison Nee and Evan Schaffhauser banged foreheads just before halftime of the game, but as a result of a fairly new rule instituted by the PIAA about three years ago, neither player was allowed to return to the game.
The rule says that players that have potentially suffered concussions need a signature from a doctor in order to return to the court during games. Doctors must sign off on the proper paperwork, usually their prescription pad, in order for the player to be cleared.
Referees have the right to ask for a possibly concussed player to be examined. Under the rule, athletic training staff cannot clear the player.
A doctor’s signature helps clear the referee of liability concerns.
“The only way the athlete may return is for the physician to sign a release on his prescription stationery,” said Freeport trainer Bill Siegel.
Both Nee and Schaffhauser needed stitches after they bumped heads.
“It’s a tough rule, especially when the parents say the kid can go back in,” said Highlands coach Tyler Stoczynski. “And what if there are no doctors? Can you imagine if this happens in the WPIAL or state championship game?”
Siegel said that the rule does protect athletes, but requires officials to take on a lot of the responsibility for player safety.
Other state athletic associations have instituted concussion protocols as well, but some athletes have found ways to skirt those safety rules.
A New Mexico rule requires high school players with a concussion to sit out at least a week before returning to normal activity, but recently an athlete challenged that rule in court and was allowed to suit up for his school’s championship game.