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Bill Would Give Refs Concussion Overrule Power

Jason Scott

In the name of player safety, lawmakers in Kentucky are considering adopting a law that would give high school sports officials power to decide whether a player can return to a game following a head injury.

According to the Daily Journal, the proposed law would provide help to ensure effective implementation of a 2012 state law that requires players who appear to have suffered a head injury to be evaluated by a licensed medical provider before returning to play.

Currently, schools provide the medical providers, and coaches have the responsibility to make sure an evaluation has taken place before putting a player back into a game. The bill would give referees the power to overrule a coach based on “reasonable suspicion” that an evaluation has not happened.

Proponents of the bill say it builds in more protection for student-athletes, but there are concerns amongst lawmakers about how the law would potentially expose officials to legal attacks and intimidation from coaches.

Chad Collins, general counsel for the Kentucky High School Athletic Association, said that he worries the bill could put referees in a position they’re not trained to handle, one in which they’re “getting closer to practicing medicine or diagnosing.”

According to Collins, officials already have the power to send an athlete to the sidelines for a second evaluation if they return to the game and still show concussion symptoms.

Most state lawmakers support the bill, with only three voting against it in the state house. 

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