The Norman Transcript

Local Sports

August 14, 2013

Newcastle mother champions effort to make high school football safer

NORMAN — This is an example of the difference one person, with a fair amount of help, can make.

Because tonight, at 10, on PBS, an hour-long documentary will air detailing that difference.

In February of last year, Kerali Davis, from Newcastle, the mother of a young football player, sent an email to Brooke de Lynch.

Davis’ son had suffered a concussion playing football in 2011. de Lench is the author of “HOME TEAM ADVANTAGE: The critical role of mothers in youth sports,” and the editor in chief of MomsTEAM.com, which bills itself as “The Trusted Source for Sports Parents.”

The connection between the two women ultimately spawned what will air tonight. It’s called “The Smartest Team: Making High School Football Safer.”

The makers of the documentary claim “The Smartest Team begins where other concussion documentaries leave off, not simply identifying the risks of long-term brain injury in football, but offering youth and high school programs across the country specific ways to minimize those risks, through a focus on what de Lench calls the ‘Six Pillars’ of a comprehensive concussion risk management program.”

So you know, the six pillars are as follows: education, protection, early identification, conservative treatment, cautious return to play and retirement.

It may sound like jargon, but there’s more to it, from not simply throwing a flag for helmet-to-helmet hits or reinforcing how not to tackle, but to specifically training players in “heads-up” tackling; from not simply instructing a trainer to ask a player what day of the week it is, but to employ new technology to track the force of hits; to really waiting until an athlete has returned to his pre-concussion health before letting him back on the field.

It may sound simple in a small story like this, but it’s not. 

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