The battle against concussions continues to spread at pace, and Kentucky is entering the fray with a unique proposal: Let the referees decide.
As reported by the Associated Press, Kentucky lawmakers are currently considering a bill that would institute referees as a last line of defense for athletes who may be suffering from head trauma. Here’s how it would work:
The law passed in the commonwealth in 2012 already requires students who are suspected of suffering a concussion to be removed from competition until they are medically cleared by a licensed professional. The loophole within that standing law is that coaches are currently responsible for ensuring a potentially injured student has been cleared before they return to a game. As one might expect, that doesn’t always happen.
Now, the measure currently before state legislators would allow a referee to overrule a coach’s decision, forcing any player back to the bench if there is suspicion they are still suffering from a concussion.
“It’s just another tier to protecting the student athlete. The official will be that next step in terms of protecting the student,” Democratic state Rep. Derek Graham of Frankfort told the AP.
Those concerned with the bill’s structure cite potential referee intimidation by coaches and increased litigation by student athletes, whether they do or do not compete following a suspected concussion.
Still, those voices appear to be a distinct minority, with the AP reporting that only two Republicans and one Democrat voted against the bill as initially structured.
“We’re talking about high school games. It’s not the Super Bowl,” Democratic state Rep. Mary Lou Marzian told the AP.