Fall sports practices start across the state of Iowa this week, and with them comes great news for parents and their sons who are student-athletes. A new program provides insurance for the assessment of concussions and will provide for any neurological follow-ups that might be necessary. And it's not just football players that get it. However, there's one big issue which you've probably already picked up on. What about the girls?

HeadStrong Insurance, as it's known, was created to protect athletes and their families from what could be costly treatments for a concussion, along with follow-ups. According to USA Today High School Sports, it

provides “first-dollar” insurance coverage. It provides student-athletes with a $0 deductible and co-pay coverage.

The Iowa Farm Bureau and the Iowa High School Athletic Association made the announcement that covers August 1, 2018 through August 1, 2019. It will cover football, baseball, basketball, bowling, non-competition cheerleading, soccer, golf, tennis, swimming, wrestling, track and field, and cross country.

You may have noticed there's no mention of softball and volleyball which are traditionally all-girls teams. The reason? The insurance only covers athletes that play IHSAA-sanctioned sports. Only girls who compete on the boy's teams of any of the sports mentioned in the previous paragraph (and cheerleaders for the boy's sports) are covered, according to an Iowa Farm Bureau Facebook post. The post reads:

The coverage is for all students (boys and girls) in grades 9 – 12 practicing or playing interscholastic sports sanctioned by the Iowa High School Athletic Association, which includes the boys sports teams (and the girls who play on those boys teams, such as girls who wrestle or play football) and the cheerleaders for those boys sports teams. Girls high school sports teams are sanctioned through the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union, which doesn’t have a program at this time.

Almost all girls aren't covered. It's unacceptable that most female student-athletes don't have the same access to this insurance as their male counterparts. A plea to the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union: Create a similar program for female athletes who play under your "umbrella," if you will. This simply has to change and I know the IGHSAU can do it... and hopefully will, very soon.

Now, for the insurance itself... if a student-athlete has primary insurance, HeadStrong will be a secondary insurance for the athlete. If a student-athlete doesn't have any other insurance available, HeadStrong will act as primary insurance.

Iowa becomes the seventh state to provide coverage. The other six are Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

IHSAA executive director Alan Beste said in a release,

We hope this insurance removes the financial barrier students and their parents or guardians may have when it comes to seeking care for a concussion.

This is a wonderful collaboration by the Iowa Farm Bureau and the IHSAA, that will no doubt help keep many Iowa teens, mostly boys, safer in the sports they love. That's terrific news for those athletes and every person that loves them so dearly. However, we have to get every female athlete covered, too. Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union: The time to act is now.