Today (August 7, 2017) marks the start of the 2017-18 season for football and golf at IHSA member schools. Later this week, other fall sports will begin their seasons. As this new school year begins, the IHSA hopes everyone will take the necessary precautions to ensure the safest playing environment for all participants. Participating in high school athletics offers many tremendous benefits to student-athletes, but there is an inherent risk for injury through that participation.
Over the past few years, the IHSA has worked with its membership and other constituents to put in place policies or guidelines aimed at player safety. Much of this information is featured on the IHSA’s Play Smart. Play Hard.
website, while several items are also highlighted below:
- Requiring contest officials to file a Special Report to member schools since 2010-11, any time a student-athlete is removed from a contest with a possible head injury.
- Updating its Pre-Season Acclimatization Policy in football in 2013 to specify the number and length of practices during the first 14 calendar days of the football season.
- Instituting new summer contact rules in football in 2014 to require a build-up to the maximum amount of allowed equipment to be worn and to develop limits on practice time in the summer.
- Instituting in-season contact protocols for football in 2015 to place limits on the type and amount of full contact that can occur during the season.
- Developing a formal Heat Management Policy in 2016 that monitors all IHSA post-season events.
- Creating concussion education for coaches and licensed officials as a part of the Youth Sports Concussion Safety Act. To date, over 42,000 individuals have completed the training.
- Developing a mechanism in the IHSA Schools Center to allow certified athletic trainers to report concussion data to the IHSA.
- Providing member schools with information on best practices regarding Return to Play, Return to Learn, and Emergency Action Planning that enabled member schools to comply with the Youth Sports Concussion Safety Act.
In addition, the IHSA’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee has and will continue to discuss other sports medicine-related topics of interest to the membership over the coming year. The IHSA’s Board of Directors approved the formation of a Sports Medicine Advisory Committee in October of 1988, making this one of the first of its kind for a state high school association in the country. Since that time, the committee has worked many important initiatives with the membership. It is expected that some of those topics the committee will discuss in 2017-18 include:
- Acclimatization Policies for other sports in addition to football
- Wrestling skin conditions and injury time for head injuries
- Player limitation guidelines and ‘best practices’ for football
- Concussion education for coaches and officials
While there are inherent risks when students choose to participate, the IHSA has been and will continue to be leaders in minimizing those risks. The IHSA also believes that participation in interscholastic sport continues to enhance the education and development of young people in Illinois. We look forward to a great 2017-18 school year of safe and competitive sport/activity participation. Play Smart. Play Hard.