(Updated November 2018)
In order to protect young athletes, the State of Ohio has passed a concussion law, commonly called the "Return to Play" law. This law, similar to laws enacted in most other states, imposes training, safety, and awareness requirements on youth sports organizations, like OSYSA, and its leagues, tournaments, coaches, referees, officials, and athletes and their families.
A concussion is a brain injury and all brain injuries are serious. They may be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or by a blow to another part of the body with the force transmitted to the head. They can range from mild to severe and can disrupt the way the brain normally works. Even though most concussions are mild, all concussions are potentially serious and may result in complications including prolonged brain damage and death if not recognized and managed properly.
Because of the significant health concern posed by the risk of concussions, and because of the Return to Play laws enacted by the State of Ohio, OSYSA is instituting the following expectations of its leagues, coaches, referees, officials, and athletes and their families.
All of OSYSA’s member leagues and tournaments are responsible to monitor and track their coaches’ compliance with the concussion training requirements of the Return to Play law. Each coach must receive concussion training prior to April 26, 2013, and that training must be renewed every three years. (See O.R.C. 3707.511 (C)(1).) Leagues and tournaments must collect and maintain certificates of compliance from the coaches and may ask for evidence of compliance. Leagues must be able to produce for each coach evidence of compliance with the training requirement.
All referees for OSYSA member league events and OSYSA-sponsored events must also be able to demonstrate that they have complied with the training requirements of the Return to Play law. Each referee must receive concussion training prior to April 26, 2013, and that training must be renewed every three years. (See O.R.C. 3707.511 (C)(1).) Referees must be able to produce evidence of compliance with the training requirement.
Leagues may choose training from either the Center for Disease Control (CDC) or the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). Both programs are free of charge. The NFHS requires a user to login but allows leagues to track coaches progress and allows coaches to log in and print their certification should they require a new certificate.
Information For Parents/Guardians
All of OSYSA’s member leagues are responsible to provide a Youth Sports Concussion Information Sheet, supplied by the Ohio Department of Health, to the parent or other guardian of each athlete who wishes to practice for or compete in the league. (See O.R.C. 3707.511 (B)). This information must be provided yearly. Leagues must be able to produce evidence of compliance with this obligation.
Information For Leagues and Coaches
Detailed Information for Leagues and Coaches
Removal From Play
Ohio’s Return to Play law features three key rules that its leagues, coaches, referees, officials, and athletes and their families must abide by:
Rule One: Coaches, referees, or officials must remove from play an athlete exhibiting the signs and symptoms of a concussion during practice or a game. (See O.R.C. 3707.511 (D)(1).)
Rule Two: The athlete cannot return to play on the same day that he or she is removed after exhibiting symptoms of a concussion. (See O.R.C. 3707.511 (E)(1).)
Rule Three: The athlete is not permitted to return to play until he or she has been assessed by a physician or licensed health care provider approved by the youth sports organization and received written clearance. (See O.R.C. 3707.511 (E)(1).) Leagues must be able to produce evidence of compliance with this obligation, which may require the league to retain the written clearance form and/or otherwise demonstrate that the league verified that the athlete was cleared to return to play.
Consequences of Failure to Comply with Ohio’s Return to Play Law
If a coach, referee, or official is knowingly not compliant with the Return to Play law, including training requirements and removal from play requirements, he or she could face civil liability (see O.R.C. 3707.511 (F)(1)) should a child become injured due to his failure to follow the law. Additionally, coaches, referees and officials who fail to follow the law may be rendered ineligible to participate in OSYSA member league events and OSYSA-sponsored events.
More information about the Return to Play law, training materials, information about the identification, treatment, and prevention of concussions, and the Youth Sports Information Sheet can be found at the Ohio Department of Health website (http://www.healthy.ohio.gov/concussion.aspx).