October 14, 2009
Parents, As required by law, we need to get the parent athlete formed about the concussion law and any potential issues your swimmer has signed and returned to us so that we can keep it on file. More information is available below. Please let us know if you have any questions. we are being directed to do this by Pacific Northwest Swimming.
Please click here for the form that
must be signed and returned to a coach by Friday, October 23rd.
The Lystedt Law dealing with concussion and brain injury in youth sports was passed this spring and became law in Washington on July 26th. Most of us thought little of it until three weeks ago when several of our clubs received a surprise when they went to renew their contracts for pool time with school districts which owned their pools. These teams asked our LSC office for help, the problem was given to me to look into, and I found the following.
Despite the first impression of the new law, it does not only apply to teams or clubs using public school facilities, but to all youth sports in the state. The law sets out certain requirements and gives responsibility for implementation to the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA), the organization that runs high school and middle school sports. Normally the WIAA has nothing to do with us, but in this one narrow area the legislature has given them authority over us. Note that the legislature and WIAA have gone no further than to simply make mandatory the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a federal health agency. The most important requirement of the law is that whenever a youth athlete suffers any possible concussion that the athlete must be withheld from all practice or competition until a competent medical professional has cleared the athlete in writing to return. “If in doubt, the athlete sits out.”
WIAA (actually, CDC) has developed a number of materials on this topic, in both English and Spanish. They require or recommend a series of forms and information sheets with 5 elements: a statement of compliance form, a parent/athlete form to be signed by both athlete and parent each year or season and returned to be kept on file, a coach information packet, an athlete information packet, and a parent information packet. The first three of these are required. Because we are a low impact sport, and because they merely repeat and amplify information already found in the parent/athlete form, I see no need to send the athlete information packet or the parent information packet. I have prepared copies of the three required elements modified for our use, they are attached.
The above form is probably the key one, it is the parent/athlete form. This form must be sent or given by the club to every athlete and their parents. The form contains important information about concussion that athletes and their parents should know (satisfying the requirement of the law that they be informed and educated) and a place for signatures of the athlete and one of his/her parents. This form must then be returned to the club (both signatures are required by law for all athletes under 18, I recommend for the club’s protection that they also get athlete signatures for athletes over 18) and kept on file. I would keep these on file (separate file for each year) for at least 5 years to guard against future legal action. The letter of the law requires that this form with both signatures be on file before the athlete is allowed to practice or compete, but since this is new to everyone I would not pull the kids out of the water. I would strongly urge clubs however to get this done and on file as quickly as possible, and certainly before their first meet. Next year clubs must plan for full compliance prior to the season start of practice.
For your information, all youth sports in the state are scrambling to catch up with the new requirements. Soccer is probably doing the best job, they use all 5 elements and require the parent/athlete form with both signatures as part of their registration process through their central office. No one gets on a field for practice unless all requirements are met in advance.
For further information please see the following websites:
PNS Safety Chair