New legislation aims at protecting athletes from concussions - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

New legislation aims at protecting athletes from concussions

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QUINCY, Ill. (WGEM) -

Friday night, high school players take the field for their second game of the season.

And every hit and tackle they take, puts them at risk for a concussion.

Because of that, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin has proposed new legislation called The Protecting Student Athletes From Concussions Act.

Even in practice, players can take some hard hits, that's why the new federal legislation would require all states to create concussion safety guidelines for public schools.

While that could take years to implement, Quincy head coach Rick Little says he's already making player safety a priority.

It's brutal hits and viscous tackles, that just come with the territory of high school football-- a sport synonymous with concussions.

Head Coach Rick Little says his most important job is to teach his players fundamentals, like proper tackling, which can help avoid concussions.

"The teaching of how to make contact, you know the head up, we really focus on that a lot. So from a coaching end of it, teaching them the proper way to do those sorts of things is really what the key is," said Little.

Members of Congress are also trying to protect players, with new legislation that would require schools to post information on concussion risks and symptoms.

As well as adopt a "When in Doubt, Sit it Out" policy.

Something Little already does.

"Certainly if a kid comes back from a concussion, he's closely monitored, and we keep an eye on his symptoms, and if you have to err, we always err on the side of being cautious," said Little. 

In fact, Little takes the safety of his players so seriously, he replaces their helmets every year, upgrading them to the same standards used in the NFL.

Players say the equipment and the techniques they learn every day in practice are their first line of defense against head injuries.

"It's all about what you have to teach the kids and how they hit, you can put as much protective padding on them as you want, but in the end, it's what they do," said Junior Quarterback, George Crickard.

"You can't help what other players are going to do, it's all about being aware on the field and being physically and mentally strong," said Senior Defensive Tackle, Jacob Kendall.

WGEM also spoke to the Trainer for the QHS Football team, Gary Hackmann who says many of the players took baseline cognitive tests before the season began so if they do get a concussion, trainers and coaches have something to compare it to determine its severity.

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