Youth Sports Concussions: Michigan High School Response
For years I watched my son take to the field in the Fall. From those first few scrimmages in the blistering August heat to the playoffs games that were played in bitterly low temperatures on Michigan's west coast which is famous for its high winds. This is the Great Lakes State, so as any good Michigander would do, I packed blankets, sunscreen, sunglasses, a gortex coat, a pair of shorts, snowmobile pants, additional layers, and a thermos to protect myself from the elements and prepared for 4 quarters of Friday Night Lights in Mid-Michigan.
The atmosphere on that high school field is so incredibly unique. Parents gravitate to the bleachers after first being sucked in by the tractor beam that is the smell of freshly popped popcorn, 50-cent Tootsie Pops. and concession stand coffee. The student section is always rowdy and the parents gather in the bleachers. For home games there aren't 'assigned seats', but there are some seats you just don't sit in. Once the whistle blows, electricity hits the air, and the entire vibe changes. It's positively charged for the remainder of the game, even if the home team comes out on the losing end.
The only thing that can bring this hometown collection of sports fans to a dead hush is when a high school athlete goes down after a big hit, mid-field collision, check into the boards, or head-to-head contact on the court.
Watching that athlete's parent react is hard too. Often times you'll see them sitting completely still, their hands over their mouths, watching their child without blinking. Others may immediately decide they need to be by their kid's side and rush onto the field of play.
As difficult as it may be, sitting on the stands and letting the sideline professionals diagnose the situation is the best thing to do. The Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) has put together a comprehensive protocol for preventing head injuries in the high school ranks.
Here's a closer look at what's happening on the field while you watch from the bleachers.