The Vermont Agency of Education has had concussion guidelines in place for youth sports for nearly a decade now. Teams may be paying extra attention to them after an on-field injury in the professional football ranks.
During the NFL’s Thursday night game in Cincinnati, Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had to be carried off the field on a stretcher. His head slammed against the turf in the second quarter after getting sacked. Tagovailoa’s hands also froze in what may have been a ‘fencing response’ position, which many medical experts say can be a response by the body to a traumatic brain injury.
He was taken to University of Cincinnati Medical Center but was released in time to fly back to Miami with his team. Dolphins officials say he suffered a concussion.
“Coming from a pretty tragic injury that’s happened at the professional level, we can learn to make youth sports and high school sports better,” Colchester High School head athletic trainer Jorie Farnsworth said Friday night at the Lakers’ home football game. “And we can be better health care professionals and better coaches and advocate for the kids who can’t necessarily speak up on their own.”
Tagovailoa may have also been concussed during his team’s game Sunday against Buffalo. After getting up from a hit, he stumbled to the ground and couldn’t walk back to his own huddle. The team originally said he suffered a back injury that day. Both the NFL and the league’s players association are investigating.
Farnsworth thinks what’s happened to Tagovailoa highlights the importance of having qualified medical professionals on the sidelines when contact sports are played.
“At Colchester, we’re pretty confident in the policy that we have in place,” Farnsworth said. “I’m here on the sideline of every football game — any sport on campus at all that happens here. We have EMS in case there’s a more severe injury. I’m always scanning the field; I don’t leave.”
Spaulding High School’s athletic trainer had soccer games to monitor in Barre Friday night and couldn’t make the football team’s trip to Colchester. However, Barre City Councilor Mike Deering coaches youth flag football and volunteers with the Crimson Tide varsity.
“As a team, we’ve worked really hard to make sure that safety is number one,” he said. “Safety has to be the first priority of every program.”
He added that it makes no sense to take a chance with a player’s health for the sake of a game — even at the professional level, where a great deal of money may be riding on that game.
“It doesn’t help anybody,” Deering said. “It doesn’t promote positivity within sports, and we also want to make sure we’re growing the sport. So, if we’re showing that our teams are being unsafe, parents aren’t going to want to put their kids into football.”
Tagovailoa himself tweeted Friday:
“I want to thank everyone for all of their prayers and support since the game last night. It was difficult to not be able to finish the game and be there with my teammates, but I am grateful for the support and care I’ve received from the Dolphins, my friends and family, and all the people who have reached out. I’m feeling much better and focused on recovering so i can get back out on the field with my teammates.”