John Hoover

John E. Hoover: Gov. Fallin signs new concussion bill into law

John E. Hoover: Gov. Fallin signs new concussion bill into law

Oklahoma’s youth athletes are made safer by new concussion legislation, signed into law on Monday by Gov. Mary Fallin. (PHOTO: Corbis)

Governor Mary Fallin signed Senate Bill 1164 into law on Monday, ensuring another layer of protection for Oklahoma’s young athletes.

Oklahoma became one of the first states to enact concussion legislation back in 2010, but was one of the last states to update its original law.

Lauren Long, co-founder of Oklahoma City-based Concussion Connection, has spearheaded the new law along with numerous members of the Oklahoma Athletic Trainers Association.

“It was a journey that started three years ago when I approached Jeff McKibbin (director of the athletic training program at the University of Central Oklahoma) on how we can make 2010’s law stronger,” Long posted on her Facebook page. “That journey led to the introduction and ultimate defeat of SB 1790 in 2014. Though defeated, we pressed onward.

“After years of fighting for change, it’s been an absolute honor of working alongside so many great people that I am able to stand here and say, we finally did it!! I can’t thank these people enough for doing all they have done and helping making this fight so worth it.”

The new law ensures that secondary school-age athletes who exhibit symptoms or signs of a concussion are:

1, immediately removed from play,

2, not allowed to return to competition until evaluated and authorized in writing by a health care professional,

3, if diagnosed with a concussion, prescribed a graduated, stepwise return-to-play protocol,

4, if diagnosed with a concussion, prescribed a similarly graduated return-to-learn protocol to ease young athletes back into academic work.

SB1164 includes additional educational requirements for coaches, game officials and school officials, and mandates that those individuals remove from play an athlete who exhibits concussion symptoms.

The State Department of Health must create a concussion management section on its website to provide necessary guidelines for individual school districts and youth sports organizations (including recreational leagues and church leagues) to develop their own policies, and it mandates that those schools and organizations do so.

SB1164 also adds penalties for coaches, game officials and/or administrators for ignoring the law. They’ll get additional concussion recognition and management education after the first offense, and a suspension from the sport (until appearing before his or her respective governing board) after subsequent offenses.

“We thought we pretty much covered everything with the back-to-school protocol (and) getting a release to be returned to play,” State Rep. Dan Kirby (R-Broken Arrow), the bill’s co-author, told The Franchise. “We didn’t put any monetary punishment in there, but if a coach continues to return a player deemed to have some type of potential head injury back into play, then eventually (that coach) can be removed.

“We’re elated.”

John Hoover

Hoover wrote for the Tulsa World for 24 years before joining The Franchise, where he's now co-host of "Further Review" on The Franchise Tulsa (weekdays 12-3, fm107.9/am1270) . In his time at the World, Hoover won numerous writing and reporting awards, including in 2011 National Beat Writer of the Year from the Associated Press Sports Editors for his work covering the Oklahoma Sooners. Hoover also covered Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Oral Roberts and the NFL as a beat writer. From 2012 to 2016, Hoover was the World's lead sports columnist. As a columnist, Hoover won national awards in 2012 and 2014 from the National Athletic Trainers Association for reporting on sports medicine and in 2015 won first place in sports columns from the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists. After receiving a journalism degree from East Central University, Hoover worked at newspapers in Ada, Okmulgee, Tahlequah and Waynesville, Mo. He played football at Ada High School and grew up in North Pole, Alaska. Hoover and his family live in Broken Arrow.

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