County Executive Steve Levy signed into law a bill Thursday requiring youth sports leagues that receive county funding to develop written policies for handling concussions and other head injuries.
"People clearly haven't gotten the message that this is a serious problem," said Legis. Brian Beedenbender (D-Centereach), the bill's author. "It's not a toughness issue, it's a mental health issue."
The law, approved by the Suffolk County Legislature earlier this month, covers as many as 70 sports leagues and 20,000 children.
The law requires youth sports organizations to develop a "written plan or policy to address incidents of possible or actual concussions or other head" injuries among participants and submit the policy when they apply for county funding.
While football's head injuries have received much attention in the last six months, among young athletes girls soccer and basketball players suffer the second- and third-most concussions, Beedenbender said.
"This will help all of our leagues," Beedenbender said. "It will force them to sit down and think about it."
Thursday was Beedenbender's last day in office. He was defeated by Republican Thomas Muratore in November's election.