Anti-Concussion Bill Worries Some District Athletic Directors

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- A bill meant to better protect athletes who've suffered a concussion is moving ahead in the Iowa Senate, however, some high school athletic directors have their doubts about the bill.

The bill proposes an athletic trainer at every high school varsity level sporting event in the case of a head injury. Trainers would be required to evaluate injured players then sign off before those players are allowed back in to compete.

Democrat Sen. Tod Bowman is backing the bill.

“Coaches have been trained. We’ve made progress in making sure coaches are well informed, but unfortunately, they are not professional health care providers,” Bowman said.

Currently, athletes who suffer a concussion must be removed from the game then receive medical clearance in order to reenter.

Lawmakers believe immediate medical attention will make it harder for coaches to put a player back in the game without the proper evaluation.

Rick Roberts, activities director at Van Meter High School, said he thinks there will be school districts that will struggle if the bill passes.

Funding for the trainers will likely come from the athletic departments. Van Meter recently began outsourcing its trainers, relying heavily on booster club support.

“It’s costing us between $5,000 and $7,000 a year to have these people in place,” Roberts said.

While he appreciates the safety precaution, he said it is unrealistic for smaller districts.

Larger athletic departments worry there are not enough athletic trainers to attend multiple events at one time.

“Unfortunately, when the state puts more requirements on us but doesn’t fund it, we have to cut something else --- take away from something else,” said Brad Rose, athletics and activities director for Valley High School in West Des Moines.

The bill will be discussed in the Senate full committee sometime next week.