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Concussion training mandate expected for youth sports

A lot of sports for young people could be very different in the near future, with a county concussion training mandate expected to come down as early as next week.

After a public hearing Thursday that only had one speaker, the proposed education mandate goes to the full Erie County Legislature on June 23. Co-sponsoring Legislator Patrick Burke said there are enough votes to pass the plan, with Majority Leader Joseph Lorigo as the other sponsor.

There have been changes to the mandate, which required the public hearing after a better attended one earlier.

The only speaker Thursday was Program for Understanding Childhood Concussions & Stroke (PUCCS) Executive Director Anne McCooey, who called the mandate a first step. "You've realized that you can't ever keep sports concussion free. You're never going to prevent concussions," she said.

"But, our goal should be to be able to reduce the incidence of life-altering or life-ending concussions, by implementing laws and regulations that keep these kids safe, that continue to raise awareness on what concussions are," McCooey said. She added that she is not opposed to sports, because she has two children who play sports during which concussions occur.

If passed by legislators, the training will affect late summer and fall sports, like Pop Warner Football, requiring the minimal training of coaches on how to spot concussions and what to do. Most interscholastic sports have people trained on concussions, under a state mandate.

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