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What We’ve Learned

Here’s some of what we’ve learned from the first two years of having all Michigan High School Athletic Association member high schools report suspected concussions and make follow-up reports for each.

First and foremost, concussions are of concern beyond football and boys. While football – the highest participation sport – has had the most concussions, the sports that follow are girls basketball (second) and girls soccer (third).

Which leads to the second lesson: Girls report two to three times as many concussions as boys in basketball and soccer, as well as in softball compared to baseball.

Which leads to the third lesson: Whether girls actually experience more concussions than boys or are more forthcoming than boys in reporting suspected concussions, coaches need to coach and communicate with females differently than males; and coach educators must prepare coaches to interact differently with boys and girls.

We’ve also learned that more than 80 percent of concussions caused the athlete to be withheld from activity for six days or longer; and again, there was a tendency to withhold girls longer than boys. In any event, the data suggests that people are taking concussions seriously and not rushing students back into practices or contests.

The data also reveals that more than two-thirds of reported concussions arise from competition, and less than one-third occur during the many longer hours of practice. This is a reversal of the data we were provided a decade ago based on smaller samplings from other states; and this suggests that coaches are finding ways to teach skills and conduct drills without requiring as much player-to-player contact as in the past.

That’s good news. But we’ve also learned from the first two years of data that there is still more to research, more to learn and more to do to make our good games even better.

Posted in: Health & Safety

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About the Author

Jack Roberts

Jack Roberts has been at the helm of the MHSAA as its Executive Director since 1986, implementing programs and overseeing tournament administration and regulations for the Association which boasts 1,500 member schools, 10,000 registered officials and 13,000 head coaches.

During the last 44 years, Roberts has spoken to educator and athletic groups, business leaders and civic groups in almost every state and five Canadian provinces. He is one of the nation's most articulate advocates for educational athletics.

Roberts has served on the board of directors of the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO), is in his second term on the board of the National Federation of State High School Associations, and is the first chairman of the NFHS Network board of directors. He has been board president for the Refugee Development Center for seven years, and is a past-chair of the board of directors of the Michigan Society of Association Executives. He is vice chair and secretary of the board of trustees for the Capital Region Community Foundation.

He is a 1970 graduate of Dartmouth College, where he played defensive safety for the Ivy League's winningest football team during that span, and he sang in Dartmouth's close harmony vocal group.

His wife, Peggy, has retired from a 30-year career in social services, and is serving as president of the board of the Fenner Nature Conservancy in Lansing.