Krissa Secrist says it's both exciting and nervewracking, watching her 10-year-old son Matthew tackle the football field for the first time this fall.
"It's scary," said Secrist. "It's very scary because their brains are developing, and it could really impact their future."
Secrist says what's less scary is knowing a new legislation is one step closer to being approved by Gov. Rick Snyder. It's designed to protect athletes from long-term effects after head injury.
The Senate passed measures requiring the Michigan Department of Community Health to develop educational materials and training for athletes, parents and coaches on concussion-related injuries and treatments. The materials would identify the nature and risk of concussions and criteria for removing athletes from activity when they're suspected of having a concussion. During a youth football tournament at the Superior Dome in Marquette last weekend, there were two concussions. The players were taken off the field. If the legislation passes, these athletes won't return to play until evaluated and cleared by a physician.
Some doctors say the Upper Peninsula may be one step ahead.
"We've been working on all three of those things in Marquette for many years, and we have a baseline testing program and education program, and we do it at a variety of schools," said Dr. J. Bryan Dixon, a physician with Marquette General Health System.
As a coach for Kingsford youth football, John Jamar says teaching the athletes proper technique early on is just as important.
"We teach form tackling first, where we're looking, fitting, wrapping, lifting, pulling our heads, keeping your eyes open, looking at our target, making sure that kids have their heads in the right position," said Jamar.
Number 64's mom says protection starts by thinking with your head and then using your helmet.
"There could be some injury, but you know, the helmets are made very, very well, and I think that they protect them pretty well," Secrist said.
More than half the states have enacted some anti-concussion legislation, and about a dozen more have proposals pending. The measure passed the House and now heads to Gov. Rick Snyder's desk.