It may not be a leading role on a series, but this commercial has something to say to student-athletes around the state.
Sophia Sesto, a Marian Catholic sophomore swimmer and water polo player, was one of 12 student-athletes from the state who were in two separate commercials with Bears Brian Urlacher and Anthony Adams. The Bears and the Illinois High School Association have teamed up to create a concussion awareness campaign, Get Defensive Against Concussions.
In addition to the TV spots that will air during IHSA televised events, the group did radio spots and a photo shoot for posters and for state finals program ads, according to the IHSA.
"It was awesome to tour Halas Hall and meet Brian Urlacher and Anthony Adams," Sesto said. "I never thought in my life I would have a chance to meet them."
Halas Hall is at the Bears headquarters in Lake Forest, Ill.
It was also a chance to get input from student-athletes about concussions.
Gov. Pat Quinn signed House Bill 200 into law July 28 at Soldier Field. The law requires that student-athletes at any elementary, middle, junior high or high school in the state receive clearance from a doctor before returning to play after suffering a concussion.
Getting the Bears and others affected by concussions to sign onto the campaign is a great idea. Having other students be in the commercial hits home a little more for teens. They realize these kids are just like them, and they need to pay attention if they are hurt.
"I think it is important we give our thoughts and we are in the commercial," Sesto said. "We also need to be more aware because sometimes you don't know if you have a head injury unless your coach says something."
IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman said in a news release this program is excellent for nurturing awareness.
"One of the things we have stressed since we adopted the IHSA Return To Play Policy, even before it became a law, was the need to change the perception about playing through head injuries that exists in sports, especially football," Hickman said. "I believe (players') presence and message in this campaign will help accomplish that."
Sesto said it has made her more aware and she hopes others will become cognizant of the potential dangers.
"I guess if I got hurt, I wouldn't say anything because I wouldn't want to come out of the pool," Sesto said. "If the coach takes me out, fine. Most kids are not going to say anything. Now, maybe you are more aware, and you might say something.
"I really think it's a good program."
This column is solely the writer's opinion. Reach him at email@example.com.