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2/26/2016 Rep. Naughton introduces bill that would mandate face protection for certain girls’ softball positions
STATE HOUSE — Rep. Eileen S. Naughton (D-Dist 21, Warwick) has introduced legislation that would mandate protective headgear for certain positions on girls softball teams.

The bill (2016-H 7756) would require that Interscholastic League athletes and youth sports athletes who are female and 19 years of age or younger and who play certain softball positions wear protective face masks during practice and at games.

“We’re learning more and more all the time about the seriousness of concussive brain injuries,” said Representative Naughton. “We’ve passed laws mandating that coaches and other youth officials be trained in recognizing the symptoms of a concussion, now it’s time to ensure that these girls are protected while on the playing field.”

The positions that would require the face mask include the pitcher, first baseman and third baseman. The face mask would have to meet National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment or ASTM test standards at the time of manufacture. The Rhode Island Interscholastic League would be required to adopt rules to see the law is carried out.

Traumatic brain injury among youth athletes is a serious public health concern in the United States. In 2011, more than 55,000 high school football players and 29,000 young soccer players sustained concussions during practice or competition, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

The majority of existing youth sports-related concussion laws aim to raise concussion awareness among students, parents, coaches, and other school personnel, and prevent the harmful short- and long-term effects of a concussion. Twenty states, including Rhode Island, require coaches to be trained in youth sports concussion recognition and awareness.

The legislation, which is cosponsored by Representatives Raymond E. Gallison Jr. (D-Dist. 69, Bristol, Portsmouth), Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston), Shelby Maldonado (D-Dist. 56, Central Falls) and Gregg Amore (D-Dist. 65, East Providence), has been referred to the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee. A companion bill (2016-S 2336) has been introduced in the Senate by Senate Minority Leader Dennis L. Algiere (R-Dist. 38, Charlestown, South Kingstown, Westerly).

For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903