By Tamas Mondovics

Concussion is an American sports drama film which stars Will Smith as forensic pathologist and neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu.

Based on the 2009 GQ article Game Brain by Jeanne Marie Laskas, the film is a dramatic depiction of American football players who suffer from major head injuries and life-long debilitating problems as a result of repeated concussions and efforts by the National Football League to deny it.

As the film hits the big screen this month, local student-athletes will be getting their fair share of hits on the athletic fields from youth leagues to high school athletics and beyond.

Local agencies, such as the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA), have been on the ball for some time now to make sure that coaches are provided with sufficient information and knowledge of the subject of concussions and its signs and symptoms as well as their subsequent personal responsibilities.

FHSAA officials, however, now announced that student-athletes in Florida are not exempt from taking some responsibility on their own and will now not only be required to fill out a form, but also to take a mandatory course on concussion, along with an online test, before stepping on the athletic field, court or gym.

“Students had to fill out forms associating with this in the past, but this year we added a new addendum requiring the athletes to take a course, which includes video streaming and extra information to help them understand the effects of concussion, before the first practice,” said FHSAA spokesperson Corey Sobers.

While the additional process may be a considerable undertaking for programs like football which may have a sizable roster, it is an important one covering all involved especially since the stakes are high for student-athletes dreaming to someday playing in the big leagues.

“This new rule is obviously for their safety and protection,” Sobers said, adding that it is the students who are directly affected and need to know the risks and the rules about concussion.

Risks and logistics aside, it is noteworthy that a recent NPR report entitled, The Long Odds Against Your Athletic Kid Turning Pro, said 26 percent of U.S. parents whose children are in high school play sports hope their child will become a professional athlete one day. The poll showed that the number is even higher, nearly 40 percent, among families with household incomes are less than $50,000 annually.

To put things in perspective, as reported by NPR, only a tiny percentage of high school athletes actually go on to play professionally — roughly 1 in 168 high school baseball players will get drafted by a Major League Baseball team, and just 1 in 2,451 men’s high school basketball players will get drafted by a National Basketball Association team, the report said according to the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Concussion is a brain injury and along with all other head injuries, it is serious. It is invisible and can be caused by a bump, a twist of the head, sudden deceleration or acceleration, a blow or jolt to the head, or by a blow to another part of the body with force transmitted to the head.

Sobers said all FHSAA-member high schools including the 220 plus private schools in Florida are required follow through with the new rule.

For more information about FHSAA, visit www.FHSAA.org.