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Suffolk OKs bill on youth sports injuries

Suffolk County lawmakers unanimously approved a bill Tuesday that would require youth sports leagues that receive funding from the county to develop written policies for handling concussions and head injuries.

Sponsored by Legis. Brian Beedenbender (D-Centereach), the bill would cover 50 to 70 leagues with more than 20,000 children.

"Regular people who are doing the coaching, they can identify a broken finger or a broken leg, but even a neurologist couldn't necessarily give a good identification of a head injury," Beedenbender said Tuesday. "I think it's important that they all have a policy."

Under the legislation, youth sports organizations must develop a "written plan or policy to address incidents of possible or actual concussions or other head" injuries among participants.

The groups must submit their policies when they apply for county funding.

Beedenbender said he was inspired by recent stories about concussions in professional football. Earlier this month the NFL issued guidelines requiring players who show concussion symptoms to be removed from games or practices.

"There may be millions of dollars on the line in the NFL, but in the youth games there aren't," Beedenbender said, adding that it's important to guard against head injuries among young children who are still developing.

The legislation would apply to all sports, not just football. Beedenbender said girls soccer and girls basketball have the second- and third-most concussions among youth sports, after football.

Dan Aug, the spokesman for County Executive Steve Levy, said Levy supports the measure and plans to sign it into law.

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