Montana Governor Steve Bullock on Monday signed into law House Bill 487, which was approved by the state Legislature earlier this year, in an effort to expand the protection of young athletes.
The Dylan Steigers Protection of Youth Athletes Act has been in effect in Montana since 2013 and requires public schools to educate parents, coaches and staff about brain injuries and the dangers of playing with a concussion.
House Bill 487 extends those requirements to private schools and other youth athletic organizations and demands that those organizations provide documentation of training programs and educational materials.
Jill Olson, director of the Dylan Steigers Concussion Project, said the 2013 bill increased the safety of sanctioned sports, but HB 487 covers young athletes playing even unsanctioned sports.
"Our biggest concern is the plethora of concussions that we see in youth that are unidentified, mismanaged, minimized and marginalized," said Olson. "This law will help provide some boundaries and structure for coaches and parents to now lean into."
Tom Steigers — father of Dylan Steigers, an Eastern Oregon University football player who died of a head injury in 2010 — told the Missoulian, "We knew all along that you weren't going to take care of the problem or even start to address it by only focusing on the high school realm.”
"You had to expand it to all areas of sports,” he said, and he feels the expanded law accomplishes that.
At the signing ceremony, Governor Bullock — the father of a soon-to-be fifth-grader who is excited to play contact football — said, "I know that because of Dylan, because of Tom, because of the work in this community, that my son and every other kid in this state are much safer.”
The new bill goes into effect on October 1.