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Sports Groups Must Provide Concussion Training for Athletes, Coaches

The Boston City Council passed an ordinance on Wednesday to create mandatory concussion safety training for permitted organizations on all Boston playing fields, rinks and leagues.

If an independent athletic group wants to use Boston's facilities, they'll have to first provide concussion safety training to all coaches, players, referees, trainers and volunteers. A new ordinance makes the training a prerequisite for a permit to use city-owned facilities. The Boston City Council passed the ordinance at its Wednesday meeting.

The ordinance, sponsored by Council President Stephen Murphy, was previously discussed in a March 14 public hearing and two working council committee sessions.

The two main points of the ordinance "concerns the procedures organizations should follow in the event of a concussive injury." And second "requires any independent athletic organization seeking a permit to use city-owned facilities to certify that they have provided concussion diagnosis, prevention, and management training to its coaches, athletes, referees, athletic trainers, and volunteers."

Murphy said concussion safety leaders from the Boston University School of Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, the Sports Legacy Institute, Boston Public Schools' athletic director, and the heads of the Boston Centers for Youth and Families, and Parks Department, spoke at the hearing.

In 2010, the Commonwealth, through its public health department, created a guide to treating and lowering brain injuries, said Murphy. 

"The Department of Public Health (DPH) has rules that all trainers and coaches be trained in brain injuries. DPH has online training, and there's also training done by the Sports Legacy Institute," said Murphy. "The BPS (Boston Public Schools) signed up from middle to high school, (anyone) coaching and training are taking these courses on brain injuries and hopefully prevent them. We are leading the charge with Los Angeles and Chicago. And we in the city of Boston, are taking the state law, and where the rubber meets the road at the local level of government—at this level of government we can pull together (and say) to Pop Warner or Little League that if they are using our facilities they must put their people through brain injury training."

Murphy said when he was growing up and playing sports, coaches said things like "shake it off," adding, "we are going to afford this protection to the kids of the city of Boston."

District 6 City Councilor Matt O'Malley, and chairman of the Government Operations Committee, said concussions account for one in 10 sports injuries for athletes from the ages of 15-24, only second to car accidents since 1994. 

"This is taking off around the Commonwealth…providing greatest protections to kids on soccer fields, and permitted programs that we run throughout our city in every season," said Murphy.

Mayor Thomas Menino must sign the ordinance for it to become law.

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