Head injuries in football pose daunting challenges which often sensational media coverage has led many to believe are insurmountable.
Add in a culture resistant to change in which concussion identification, management, and recovery is complicated by the unwillingness on the part of many players to honestly report experiencing concussion symptoms, and no wonder many are naturally left to wonder what can be done to improve safety.
The brainchild of visionary sports health and safety and parenting expert and author, Brooke de Lench, and drawing on her vast experience, both as a parent of a concussed high school football and lacrosse player and as the founder and publisher of MomsTEAM.com – now beginning its 17th year as the trusted source of sports health and safety and parenting information and acknowledged pioneer in concussion education – The Smartest Team follows de Lench and a team of world-class experts as they work with the football program at Newcastle High School in rural Oklahoma to address the challenges concussions pose to the sport.
The result of their collaborative efforts: a 75% reduction in the concussion rate in just one season, greater concussion awareness by players, coaches, and parents, and improved concussion identification and management.
The Smartest Team offers youth and high school programs across the country specific ways to minimize concussion risks through a focus on what de Lench calls the Six Pillars™ of concussion risk management:
1. Comprehensive concussion education;
2. Protection (risk minimization/prevention);
3. Early identification/immediate removal from play;
4. Conservative treatment (physical and cognitive rest/return to learn)
5. Cautious return to play; and
6. Retirement (when risk outweighs reward)
Through candid interviews of parents, players, Newcastle’s athletic director, trainer and team doctor, equipment manufacturers, and leading concussion experts, The Smartest Team acknowledges that head injuries in football need to be taken seriously, but at the same time shows, in easy-to-understand terms, how youth and high school football programs can improve player safety.
Narrated by two-time Super Bowl winner and Big Ten Network announcer, Howard Griffith, and impeccably researched, The Smartest Team features a number of leading experts on head injuries, including:
- William P. Meehan, III, M.D., Director of the Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention, former Director of the Sports Concussion Clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital, and author of the book Kids, Sports, and Concussions;
- Rosemarie Scolaro Moser, Ph.D., Director of the Sports Concussion Center of New Jersey, author of Ahead of the Game: The Parents’ Guide to Youth Sports Concussion, and a member of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Mild Traumatic Brain Injury panel;
- Joseph A. Congeni, M.D., Medical Director of The Sports Medicine Center at Akron (OH) Children’s Hospital;
- Coach Bobby Hosea, founder of Train Em’ Up Academy and developer of the Head Free Tackle™ method; and
- Brooke de Lench, Founder and Publisher of MomsTEAM.com, Executive Director of the non-profit MomsTEAM Institute, youth sports expert, blogger, filmmaker, and author of Home Team Advantage: The Critical Role of Mothers in Youth Sports.
The Smartest Team shows what can happen when all stakeholders work together to make the sport of football safer. More broadly, it charts a path forward, not just to preserve but strengthen football, which play such an important part in the life of so many communities across America.