Youth Sports Safety Pioneer Provides Solutions For Meeting Football Concussion Challenge

Brooke de Lench calls The Smartest Team a “blueprint for safer football”

With all the scary talk these days about head injuries in football, many are asking where the sport goes from here. The answer is a new hour-long documentary, The Smartest Team: Making High School Football Safer, currently airing on many PBS stations around the country through January 2014.

The Smartest Team is the brainchild of visionary youth sports safety and parenting expert and author, Brooke de Lench, and draws on knowledge she gained as a parent of a concussed high school football and lacrosse player and, for the past fourteen years, as publisher of, the acknowledged “pioneer” in youth sports concussion education.

The Smartest Team begins where other concussion documentaries leave off. Instead of simply cataloging the dangers of concussions, the documentary shows how a team of world-class concussion experts de Lench brought in from across the country helped a high school football program in rural Oklahoma increase concussion awareness, improve concussion identification and management, and reduce its concussion rate by 75% in a single season.

Six Pillars

The Smartest Team offers a blueprint for making football safer through a focus on what de Lench calls the “Six Pillars” of concussion risk management.

  1. Education: The documentary educates parents, players, coaches, and healthcare professionals on the signs and symptoms of concussion and the long-term health risks concussions pose if they are not identified early and managed conservatively.
  3. Prevention: The risk of traumatic brain injury can be reduced by teaching “heads up” tackling and blocking, equipping players with properly fitted helmets, strengthening their necks to better withstand the forces that cause concussion, reducing the number of hits they sustain, and through stricter enforcement of rules against helmet-to-helmet contact.
  5. Early Identification: Sideline personnel, especially certified athletic trainers, must be given the tools they need to identify athletes with suspected concussion so they can be quickly removed from play.
  7. Conservative Treatment: Concussed student-athletes must be provided the physical and cognitive rest they need for their brains to heal and return to the classroom as soon as possible.
  9. Cautious Return to Play: Athletes must return to sports only when their symptoms have cleared, they can handle a full academic workload, scores on baseline tests have returned to normal, and they have successfully completed return to play exercise protocol.
  11. Retirement: Retirement must be recommended when continued participation in football poses an unreasonable risk of permanent brain damage.

Narrated by two-time Super Bowl winner and Big Ten Network announcer, Howard Griffith, The Smartest Team features a number of leading experts on preventing, identifying, and managing head injuries in sports, including:

  •   *William P. Meehan, III, MD, director of the Sports Concussion Clinic and the Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention at Boston Children’s Hospital;
  •   *Rosemarie Scolaro Moser, PhD, director of the Sports Concussion Center of New Jersey;
  •   *Joseph A. Congeni, MD, medical director of The Sports Medicine Center, Akron Children’s Hospital, and
  •   *Coach Bobby Hosea of the Train Em’ Up Academy and developer of the Head Free Tackle System.


The Smartest Team shows what can happen when all stakeholders work together to make the sport of football safer, not just for their own kids but for all kids,” says de Lench. “More broadly, it charts a path forward, not just to preserve but to strengthen youth and high school football, which plays such an important part in the life of so many communities across America.”

About® is the premier online youth sports parenting information gateway for America’s 90 million sports parents. MomsTEAM’s Concussion Center is widely regarded as one of the most comprehensive and up-to-date resources for concussion information on the Internet.