Committee on Children
JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CONCERNING CONCUSSIONS AND YOUTH ATHLETIC ACTIVITIES CONDUCTED ON PUBLIC ATHLETIC FIELDS.
SPONSORS OF BILL:
Committee on Children
REASONS FOR BILL:
To protect young children from the potentially devastating effects of concussions by increasing education on concussion related symptoms and health risks for parents and coaches at the youth level.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
Steven Hernandez, Commission on Children: provided information regarding the rate of concussions in youth athletics. Mr. Hernandez stated the Commission on Children supports this legislation, noting that “…by ensuring coaches are trained and parents are informed on the dangers of concussions, we move one step closer to ensuring that children exposed to injury on our public playing fields are supervised and attended to by adults trained in…concussion safety.”
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Diana Coyne, Parents Concussion Coalition: supports the intent of the bill, but believes the immunity clause is a step backwards from protecting children who play youth athletics.
State Representative Gail Lavielle, 143rd Assembly District: supported the intent of the bill, but raised concerns regarding the civil liability immunity. She said “It seems paradoxical to pass a law that simultaneously imposes requirements and absolves relevant parties from respecting them, and this makes enforcement difficult.”
Theresa Miyashita, Connecticut Athletic Trainers Association: supported several provisions of the bill, but raised concerns regarding civil liabilities. She believes municipalities should not be immune to civil liability.
Julie Peters, Brain Injury Alliance of Connecticut: supported the intent of the bill with several recommendations and concerns about the immunity clause. Her recommendations included exclusively using the CDC's training course for all coaches and operators, replacing the Informed Consent Form with the CDC Parent and Athlete Concussion Information Sheet, and language that immediately removes and denies the youth from returning to play when exhibiting signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with a concussion.
David Wang, Connecticut Children's Medical Center: believes this bill is a step in the right direction towards supporting the protection of young athletes.
Mary Jane Williams, Connecticut Nurses Association: included summaries of studies from hospitals in Ohio, Rhode Island, and the Mayo Clinic regarding youth concussions in athletic activities.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Pippa Bell Ader, Parents Concussion Coalition: supports the intent of the bill, but “they cannot support a bill that provides civil liability immunity to pretty much ALL entities that might be involved in Youth Sports.”
Fred Balsamo, Connecticut Coach Education Program: indicated concerns with several aspects of the bill. He believes the change from a refresher course every five years to two years is unnecessary and raised concerns regarding the change in language for youth activities to include fields and open spaces.
Alexandra Beaudoin, CT Conference of Municipalities: supports the intent of the bill, but raised concerns that the administrative and logistical requirements may be overly burdensome for municipalities and parents.
John L. Cattelan, Executive Director, Connecticut Alliance of YMCAs: stated that while their organization supports the intent of the bill, they have serious concerns regarding the financial costs to YMCAs to track coach's compliance.
Michelle Dyer, Student, Trinity College: cited concerns with the with the immunity clause. She believes it will remove the incentive to comply with the law.
William Engle, Glastonbury Parks and Recreation Department: noted that the protocols being placed on volunteer coaches who are often full-time working parents are the same as those placed on paid coaches. He also raised concerns with the proposed definition of 'operator' and 'public athletic field'. He believes these changes are unenforceable due to the large number of independent leagues and municipal leagues that lack a central governing body.
Kathleen Kennedy, Connecticut Parent Teachers Association: indicated that while their organization supports the intent of the bill, they are concerned that the provisions of this bill will decrease rather than increase opportunities for youth to be involved in youth athletics.
Dr. Karissa Niehoff, Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference: testified that the proposed bill would institute mandates that will prohibit many children with working families from having the opportunity to participate in youth athletics.
Deb Shulansky, Brain Injury Alliance of Connecticut: stated the immunity clause circumvents the intent of the law.
Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association: believe the immunity provision will “create an unreasonable expansion of our immunity laws…”
Reported by: Steve Jones, Assistant Clerk
Alessandra Burgett, Clerk