The Illinois High School Association oversees about 800 schools, and a recent class-action concussion lawsuit is threatening high school football programs across the state, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The lawsuit, which is seeking no monetary damages, is requesting that medical personnel be available at all games and practices in the name of safety, and the suit also calls for the IHSA to pay for medical testing of former high school players dating all the way back to 2002.
Right now, the IHSA states that they have a $10 million yearly budget to spread across more than 40 sports and activities, and argues that the testing and mandated medical personnel at all high school practices and games would be "financially crippling," according to the Chicago Tribune.
One part of the lawsuit that doesn't really make a whole lot of sense, is its aim to have head related injury policies administered by the court. The IHSA worries about how schools will be held accountable by judges and lawmakers if medical personnel aren't at a practice.
While the NCAA and NFL have seen their fair share of concussion related class-action lawsuits over the past decade, this is the first suit of its kind against the governing body of a high school sports organization, and the ripple effect could be far reaching.
I fully understand the concern of head injuries, and wanting medical personnel there at all times, but a bigger part of me has larger concerns about how practical that is with the current financial state of education, especially in Illinois - and particularly Chicago, where public schools are being closed down and consolidated left and right. I have to wonder if having medical personnel available at tennis and football practice is the best use of the IHSA's funds.
It goes without saying that if this lawsuit succeeds and schools are forced to have medical personnel at every practice, a large number of football programs will fold which can have devastating effects on the community, and countless individuals, including players, and coaches.
A hearing on the case is set for April 23rd, and while I don't think having schools pony up to have trainers at all practices and games will be the outcome, it's an issue threatening football programs in the state of Illinois that we should all be aware of.