Senate bill aims at anti-concussion & mandatory trainers for varsity sports

The bill will go before subcommittee debate on Monday

By Claire Powell | cpowell@weareiowa.com

Published 02/12 2016 06:37PM

Updated 02/12 2016 06:48PM

DES MOINES- An anti-concussion bill is set to hit senate subcommittee debate Monday afternoon.

Senator 3044, backed by Democratic Senator Tod Bowman, states it should be mandatory for every school district’s home team to provide an athletic trainer at every varsity “collision sports" game. Those sports defined as “collision sports” include wrestling, hockey, lacrosse, football and boys and girls soccer. 

If a concussion occurs, trainers have 48 hours to notify athletic directors.

The bill “strongly encourages,” but does not mandate, the same process be followed in sports such as basketball, baseball, softball and others. 

“I think the schools see the related price tag and it’s minor to the liability issues of having an event where athletes are competing without someone with professional medical training,” said Sen. Bowman.

Bowman is backing the bill for many reasons. He coached varsity wrestling for 20 years and coached varsity football for more than twelve. 

Just two years ago, his son Beau, was slammed to the mat during a tough wrestling meet. 

“The way he got up, he was not in his right clear state of mind,” said Bowman.

Beau suffered a concussion and the athletic trainer present at the time was able to see the symptoms and stop the match from continuing. 

“It was two weeks before he was able to start practicing again,” said Bowman.

The biggest hurdle for the bill to jump during Monday’s debate?

If brought into law, it would be an unfunded mandate for already struggling, some would say underfunded, state schools.

“I don’t look lightly at the cost this would give the schools to support student athletes,” said Bowman, who is also part of the Iowa Education committee. 

“Anytime you have an unfunded mandate, you’re asking the schools to do more with less,” said Brad Rose, Valley School District Athletic Director and member of Iowa’s High School Athletic Director Association. 

Rose says many schools, including those in the CIML, already have procedures in place similar to what the bill is asking. 

“I don’t see this as big of a problem to financially support when you limit the number of sports. We’re covering more sports than that,” said Rose. 

Rose noted that coaches already have mandatory concussion training every year, but more safety couldn’t hurt. 

“I’m a dad with a 10-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter. It’s a challenge for me to decide how much contact I want them to have personally, so I’m very involved,” said Rose.

Other athletic directors, like those at 1A and 2A schools, say the funding is more of an issue than most may lead on. The schools are forced to rely on outside funding instead of budgeting those positions within the schools' yearly budget. 

Senate bill 3340 will go before Senate subcommittee debate on Monday at 2:30 p.m. 

Bowman added they plan to add a couple of amendments to the bill, as well. One would include allowing physical therapists and doctors to attend the games, in turn, relieve the demand pressure on specifically siting athletic trainers. The other amendment tacked to the bill would not reprimand a school if an “unforeseen act” happened, delaying or preventing a trainer, doctor or therapist from arriving to a game. 

Look for Local 5 News for more updates as this issue continues. 

 

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