Rep. Pilon champions working group to better prevent and treat head injuries in youth sports
June 29, 2011
AUGUSTA – In a disappointing reversal, Republicans in the House flipped their support for a bill that would prevent head injuries in youth sports. In an effort to save the measure Democrats pushed to have the bill sent back to the Legislature’s Education Committee to be reviewed next session.
Saco legislator Rep. Donald Pilon, D- Saco, sponsor of the legislation, had strong words for the attempt to kill the legislation.
“My colleagues from across the aisle chose to put a political show of strength ahead of the safety of Maine children today,” Pilon said. “I am very disappointed that Republicans chose to abandon a bill they previously supported.”
Pilon’s bill would reconvene a working group to update Maine’s policy to prevent, diagnose and treat head injuries sustained in school sport programs. In addition to the updates, the group would have determined the procedural steps necessary to allow a student who sustained a head injury to resume participation in sport and school activities.
Numerous physicians testified in favor of the measure at the public hearing, along with concerned parents, representatives from the Maine Principal’s Association and the Maine School Superintendent Association. The National Football League wrote a letter in support of the bill, citing the need for proper practices to avoid major or lifelong damage.
“I don’t understand how, in good conscious, they could turn on a bill that earned unanimous support from the Education Committee and had unanimous support in the full House and Senate until the eleventh hour,” Pilon said. “Just like with the bill to protect children from bullying, this was political maneuvering just like with the bullying bill. I am disappointed that we’ll go through another school year before this policy is updated. Maine’s student athletes deserve better.”
The bill will be taken up again in January when the legislature reconvenes.
Jodi Quintero [ Pilon ], 287-1488