Head Games: More Confirmed or Feared Concussions Among Idaho High-School Athletes


The Idaho High School Activities Association, which is tasked with overseeing competition among the thousands of boy and girl athletes at Gem State schools, is out with a new survey that indicates an increasing number of reported head injuries, primarily concussions.

In October, Boise Weekly examined the burgeoning problem, particularly among football players, by talking with Idaho football coaches in the high school and college ranks.

"My son got two concussions in eighth grade. He finished the season and hasn't played in the last two years since," said Marc Paul, Boise State University's assistant director for sports medicine. "As a dad that loves the sport—and I see so many good things about it—I would love to see him play because of how much he loved it before he got hurt."

A new Idaho law, passed by the 2012 Idaho Legislature, says that if an athlete younger than 18 years old "has sustained a concussion or head injury and exhibits outward signs or symptoms of such ... then the youth athlete shall be removed from play." The athlete will only be allowed to return to play once he or she is "evaluated and authorized to return by a qualified health care professional who is trained in the evaluation and management of concussions."

"Most of us played through an era when somebody might have had a concussion and they would be back in the next game," said Matt Holtry, head football coach and athletic director at Homedale High School. "But the good part is the new awareness. And the education part of it is huge. So the coaches all agreed upon the new protections."

The IHSAA reports that fewer than half of Idaho's 152 participating schools answered its most recent survey but the findings were startling: Approximately 450 boys and girls missed games or practice in the fall of 2012 because of confirmed or potential concussions. Football chalked up the most instances, followed by girls soccer, boys soccer and volleyball.