Tonya Wilson, the mother of the late Maryland football player Jordan McNair, speaks to reporters Oct. 7, 2019, about a bill that would require leaders of youth sports programs at Baltimore's youth recreation centers to undergo additional training.
Tonya Wilson, the mother of the late Maryland football player Jordan McNair, speaks to reporters Oct. 7, 2019, about a bill that would require leaders of youth sports programs at Baltimore's youth recreation centers to undergo additional training. (Phil Davis)

The family of the University of Maryland football player who died of heatstroke in June 2018 joined city officials in touting newly passed legislation they say will help protect children enrolled in youth sports programs throughout Baltimore.

Passed during Monday night’s City Council meeting, the legislation will require anyone applying for a permit to run a youth sports league at one of the city’s youth recreation centers to receive training in six areas — concussion, heat exhaustion, heatstroke, using a defibrillator, cardiac arrest and child abuse — to identify medical conditions as well as signs of abuse.

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In addition, the leagues will be required to have an AED defibrillator onsite, provided by the city’s Recreation and Parks Department.

Council President Brandon Scott said that once the bill becomes law next year, people applying to run a youth sports league out of any of the city’s youth recreation centers will have to document that they underwent the training.

The bill passed unanimously during Monday’s meeting. District 10 Councilman Edward Reisinger was absent for the vote.

In a news conference, the parents of McDonogh alumnus Jordan McNair, who died of heatstroke about two weeks after passing out May 29 during a preseason practice in College Park, voiced their support for the bill.

“The only way to be impactful is create legislation and policy," said Martin McNair, the former football player’s father.

“And that’s the only way this is going to get done and the only way ... that this will be policed, in a sense.”

The two said they supported the bill and are continuing their work to donate hundreds of cold water tubs to universities and institutions throughout the country.

Scott said youth safety in sports programs “is a national issue” and one the NCAA needs to address.

“Listen, kids are dying, right? And we have to understand the business that the NCAA is,” he said. “That shouldn’t happen in what is, essentially, a billion dollar business who can prevent these things from just changing regulations and policy.”

Joyce Lombardi, director of government relations and legal services for the Baltimore Child Abuse Center, said the center supports the bill because “it really highlights the importance of our youth coaches and our sports leaders on our kids’ lives.”

“At Baltimore Child Abuse Center, we’ve seen about 30,000 cases in our 30-year history and no small amount of those is from our coaches and from people who have a lot of access and possible an outsized influence with our kids,” Lombardi said.

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