Taking Up Concussions at the Colorado Statehouse

January 17 2011, 12:00 PM

Short of death, there likely isn't a football injury as stealthy and pernicious as the concussion. In the past, a player would slam his head into another player or into the ground, feel a bit woozy, take a play off, and get back out on the field. Players who couldn't return to the field were considered weak, causing a chilling effect that led many to play through concussions, leaving themselves more susceptible to future concussions and the serious health problems that come with them. The issue has been the subject of increasing media coverage, including from 5280's own Robert Sanchez, whose story on former University of Colorado star and NFL player Ted Johnson is featured in The Best American Sports Writing 2010.

Now, Colorado state Senator Nancy Spence, a Republican from Centennial, is taking up the cause, introducing a bill that would require coaches in Colorado schools, private sports clubs, and recreation centers to be trained every year in how to identify concussions in athletes aged 11 to 19, reports 9News. The legislation would also mandate that coaches remove athletes from competition if they exhibit symptoms of a concussion. The athletes would only be allowed to return after written clearance from a medical professional. Spence has named the bill after Jake Snakenberg, a 14-year-old football player from Grandview High School who died in 2004 as a result of a concussion.