Lawmakers discuss ways to tackle student-athlete concussions


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Lawmakers are again speaking about student-athlete concussions and how to stop them as the Virginia Commission on Youth met Tuesday morning.

16-year-old Cam’ron Matthews, a Texas high school football player, died Saturday after collapsing during halftime of Friday night’s game. His cause of death is still unknown, but just weeks into the fall football season, Matthews is the sixth player to die across the country.

“That’s alarming. We don’t want that to happen in Virginia,” said Delegate Chris Peace.

Peace is the chair of the Virginia Commission on Youth. This year, the commission has studied student athlete concussions and the gaps that are currently in Virginia’s school systems. The state has passed legislation and looked at issues related to concussions for the past five years. Peace says a large majority of schools are doing what they should be when it comes to identifying and responding to concussions with a few exceptions.

“We want to make sure that all localities follow those best practices and protect those student athletes as much as possible,” said Peace.

Some of the recommendations being considered are mandating that localities have policies in place to identify and respond to student athlete concussions, possible punishments for coaches or school systems that don’t have or don’t follow those policies, and making annual physical check ups – now a requirement for high school athletes – a requirement in middle school so high school coaches are more aware of their health history.

“A coach may inherit a child that walks on to the team who has had multiple concussions that the school doesn’t even know about,” said Peace.

The commission will meet again before finalizing recommendations for the General Assembly and the governor on December 8th.

Since 2005, 36 high school football players have died as result of on-field injuries, including a Mecklenburg County High School player just last year.

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