February 4, 2023
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Lawmakers Call for Increased Study on Sports Injury Prevention and Protocols – NBC Connecticut

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A year ago to the day, the loss of 16-year-old Teddy Balkind sent shockwaves throughout the hockey world. 

“It’s terrible, obviously,” said Ryan Daigle of Hartford. “You think about the family and this was just a kid playing his sport.”

Balkind was cut by a skate blade during a prep school game in Greenwich last year.

Just yesterday, a skating accident of similar nature sent one player to the hospital during last night’s college hockey game between Army and Sacred Heart.

“Whenever something like this happens, you think about how it can be prevented, and I think the safety of the players comes first,” Daigle said.

That’s what Connecticut lawmakers thought last winter when they first introduced a bill requiring neck guards across youth hockey.

Currently, member schools of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) are required to wear neck guards, but that does not include private schools.

“The initial conversations were in fact due to the accident that happened on the ice here in Connecticut,” said Rep. Elizabeth Linehan (D-103), House chair for the Children Committee.

But based on a lack of research regarding the effectiveness of neck guards, the Connecticut State Medical Society  Sports Medicine Committee opposed the action.

“It doesn’t mean that we should do it, and we do recommend neck guards, but we’re not requiring them because the evidence isn’t there,” said Stephanie Arlis-Mayor, chair of the Connecticut State Medical Society Sports Medicine Committee.

Instead, new wording called for more research across all sports to “establish a task force to study injury prevention and safety protocols.”

“Instead of putting something in state statute that says neck guards are required, in state statute, we want to say it is required for you to look at these things, check out the latest science and make recommendations based on that on a continual basis,” Linehan said.

Last year, that bill never came up for a vote, but with sports medicine and safety at the forefront of today’s discourse, a new bill is in the works with a similar goal in mind.

“It’s important to understand the evidence of why we’re doing what we’re doing rather than just making decisions based on gut feelings or general worries,” Arlis-Mayor said.

The bill is once again focused on getting medical data across all sports that the CIAC, and schools throughout the state, can use to keep its protocols as safe and up-to-date as possible.

Linehan says the bill will be discussed on Tuesday when lawmakers will vote to send it to public hearing.



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