During the days when NASA space flights were covered heavily on television, I was always intrigued when the astronauts had to perform “mid-course adjustments.” With all the computerized guidance that NASA had at its disposal, they still needed to adjust things in the middle of the project. I guess that frame of reference is comforting when I write this article about what I consider to be “mid-course adjustments” for this school year.
GEORGIA CONCUSSION LAW & GHSA BY-LAW 2.68
The Georgia General Assembly passed and the Governor signed the “Georgia Return To Play Act” that specifies important protocols that apply to all GHSA sports. Because these protocols are matters of state law, they carry special significance for our member schools. Here are some highlights about these protocols that are mentioned on the GHSA web site (Click “Inside GHSA” and then click “Sports Medicine”):
1. If a student participates in multiple sports, the form signed by the student and the parents must be completed in each sport. One copy of this form should go to the family, and the other copy should be retained at the school. A recent court case in another state dealing with a concussed athlete hinged on whether the family had been given proper warning about the risks inherent in athletics.
2. All coaches must complete the free, on-line course dealing with “Concussion Management” by going to www.nfhslearn.com. Each coach must complete the course this year, and then must complete updated versions of this course at least once every two years. Each school needs to monitor the completion of this requirement with its coaches.
3. The protocols for removing a student from play and returning the student to play must be followed at both practices and games. If officials see signs and/or symptoms of a concussion with a player on the field during a game, that player is taken to the head coach on the sidelines, and the official will tell the coach what he has seen. If the coaches see these signs and symptoms, they should take action to remove the student from play. After that, the player must be assessed to verify the possibility of a concussion. The overriding motto is: “When in doubt, keep them out.” For practices, coaches have the responsibility of looking for signs and symptoms of concussion among the players.
4. Coaches may be asked by game officials about whether there is an “appropriate medical professional” on-site at the game. Without such a person present, no player may return to that contest after showing the signs and/or symptoms of a concussion. An appropriate medical professional is defined as an MD, an osteopath, an advance practice nurse, a physician’s assistant, or a certified athletic trainer.
Because the FTE counts from the Georgia Department of Education are not available at this time, there will be a slight modification in the time table. The final date for ratifying the new plan will still be Tuesday, January 14, 2014. The first deadline has been modified somewhat. When the FTE numbers are released on the GHSA web site, member schools will have seven (7) days instead of 14 days to appeal the FTE count. The only basis for the appeal would likely be that the GHSA made a typographi- cal error transferring the GaDOE count. When the reclassification information is posted on the home page of the GHSA web site, there will be specific dates when the Reclassification Committee will place schools in classifications and in regions.
– Ralph Swearngin, Executive Director