MLB, Meet South Dakota

South Dakota legislators are attempting to push through a new law that would protect student athletes from a growing national epidemic: concussions.

The law would require athletes to go through a series of tests before reentering the game if they show even the slightest symptoms of a concussion. It would also require parents and coaches to go through a series of educational procedures before beginning game activities.

Rep. Dan Lederman expressed his concern for the growing national concern. “You can have long-term brain damage for concussions if you’re not taken out of the game to recoup,” he noted.

And so arises the essential question: why protect student athletes and not the professionals?

On Tuesday, MLB and the players’ union announced a new set of proceduresthat will take effect on opening day meant to deal with the issue of concussions. Included is a new, seven-day disabled list option for players recovering from concussions.

Contrasted with the efforts of lawmakers in South Dakota, it seems a bit ironic that Major League Baseball would make this decision. Creating a seven-day disabled list sends a startling, ignorant message: concussions don’t really require that much time to heal.

Tell that to Aaron Hill of the Toronto Blue Jays, who missed four months in 2008 due to a concussion.

Representatives of South Dakota and doctors alike will tell you the same thing: the concern with concussions is not so much prevention, as it is treatment. And when we talk about treatment, we are talking about time. Too often athletes are rushed back onto the field without proper time to recover.

And this is not something to mess around with. A few extra days of recovery for a concussion should be required, because inadequate recoveries for concussions are much more serious than inadequate recoveries for, say, a broken arm.

We are talking about brain damage here. Why is Major League Baseball encouraging quick recoveries? What is wrong with sitting out an extra eight days to ensure the prevention of a long-term impairment?

It’s time to take a few steps back. If South Dakota can do it, so can Major League Baseball.

Jess is the host of The Radio Hour, every Monday night at 9pm, Eastern. Contact him at [email protected].

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