HENRICO, VA (WWBT) – Henrico County lays down the law when it comes to football and concussions.
Few would deny that hard hitting makes football exciting, unless it's you or your son on the wrong end of a TV highlight. This year, things are different in Henrico County.
Conrad Broadus plays for J.R. Tucker High School, offense and defense, which doubles the risk of a concussion.
"They're always in the front of your mind, when you go hit somebody you're like, 'Man, I got my bell rung,'" Broadus said.
"It's hard to recover from. Definitely is hard to get up," added teammate Zack Snead.
Henrico County school leaders don't want to see that, so back in June they adopted a formal policy. It says any student who shows signs of a concussion will be "...removed from play immediately..." and the trainer on the sideline "...may not be overruled".
At Tucker High School, that's Jamie Messer.
"A concussion is basically a brain bruise. You can't really see anything, you have to go based upon symptoms," Messer said.
If a player starts acting abnormally, Head Coach Matt Crenshaw says it's an easy decision...no matter who the player is. It's the way he and many coaches have operated even before the policy was put into writing.
"He's off the field. We're not gonna do anything that's gonna put any of our players in jeopardy," Crenshaw said.
Concussions, of course, are not a new issue. But they are under a new, more intense, sort of microscope. As a result, coaches spend more time teaching how to hit properly, because even young players know they're just one wrong collision away from a painful stint on the sideline.
"In the end, it's just a game. It's not the end-all, be-all, if we lose, we lose...if we win, we win. But, you gotta put your safety first sometimes, and I'd be okay with it," Broadus said.
"We want to make sure that the kid goes back as safely as possible," added Messer.
The policy is most closely associated with football, but will be in place for all sports the entire year. Athletes who suffer concussions must be given adequate time to heal, and can't play again until they're symptom free.