SPORTS-RELATED concussions and head injuries are under national scrutiny. Ignited by the medical nightmares playing out in the NFL, Ohio politicians are now entering the athletic forum in an attempt to bring about a safer playing field.

As more and more awareness is being brought to concussions, the state of Ohio has been very pro-active. Buckeye State lawmakers have passed legislation which takes great strides to ensure proper safety for young athletes.

Effective April 26, House Bill 143 becomes law. The bill requires all coaches and officials – both high school and youth – to undergo an online concussion training course and it also requires an athlete to have a doctor’s permission to return to play after suffering a concussion.

The law will only have a ripple effect on the high school level.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association already had similar regulations in place, which requires an athlete be immediately removed from a competition, or practice, should he or she show any signs of a concussion. Also, high school and junior high coaches are already required to have a sports medicine training. However, they will need to complete the online concussion course, which is good for three years, similar to the Pupil Activity Validation.

The new legislation, however, will have wide-raging effects officials and coaches dealing with younger athletes.

Sports officials will now have to take the concussion course as well. Any track or tennis official as well as baseball or softball umpire will be required to go through the 30-minute training.

How the new law impacts youth sports association coaches is open for discussion. The state has never completely detailed the ramifications or punishments should something happen and the individual or group not be in compliance with the law.

With that gray area, it is likely most youth sports associations will certainly become concussion-test certified for liability purposes. Unfortunately, it may deter volunteers from stepping to the plate to offer their coaching services. But we believe those truly passionate about helping youths will not be deterred.

We realize House Bill 143 may appear an inconvenience to some. But we also realize that the legislation protects young athletes and you cannot put a price tag on safety.