Saturday’s news involving health and safety in sports:
* The Billings Gazette reported that concussion bills in the Montana legislature are gaining momentum.
Numerous Montanans — including parents, doctors, nurses, lawyers, athletic trainers and school officials — supported a bill Friday to require youth athletes with signs of concussions to be sidelined and not participate in sports again until they receive medical clearance.
In all, 24 people testified for Senate Bill 112, by Sen. Anders Blewett, D-Great Falls, at a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. No one spoke against it.
“We face a concussion epidemic here in America,” said Blewett, an attorney who was placekicker for Harvard University’s football team and for an arena football team in Billings.
His bill requires school districts to adopt a policy addressing the dangers of concussions with minimum requirements for the policy. It requires a youth athlete suspected of sustaining a concussion to be removed from the game. Finally, it doesn’t allow that person to play that sport again until obtaining medical clearance.
* In the same vein, the JC-TC.com reported on an Illinois lawmaker who wants to limit youth football practices in order to cut down on concussions.
Under legislation introduced this week by state Rep. Carol Sente, school districts across Illinois would have to adopt a policy that would cut the amount of contact during practices to once per week.
The proposal comes as sports concussions have become a hot-button issue for the National Football League. With medical studies showing that repeated concussions could lead to permanent brain damage, the nation’s most popular sports league is facing dozens of lawsuits filed by former players who sustained head injuries during their playing days.
Sente said the trend is “disturbing” and needs to be addressed, especially for younger players.
* The Ole Miss football coach is receiving criticism for his mediocre program suddenly getting ranked among this year’s best recruiting classes in the nation, according to USA Today.
* NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he will work on the drunk driving problem in football after meeting officials from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, The Associated Press reported.
* The Bleacher Report wrote about what an independent sideline neurologist would look for during an NFL game.
* CSNWashington.com reported that Robert Griffin III was cleared to travel to New Orleans after offseason knee surgery.
* Barry Sanders told the Detroit Free Press that the first gay NFL player who comes out will have to own a thick skin.
* In significant NBA injury news, Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard returned to Los Angeles for tests on his ailing left shoulder, and Boston Celtics rookie Jared Sullinger is out for the season following back surgery.
* And FoxNews published a column that asked if President Obama should ban football.