The Denver Post - - OFF & RUNNING -

austin, texas» This week, Texas will launch what state of­fi­cials said is the na­tion’s largest ef­fort to track brain in­juries among young ath­letes.

The Univer­sity In­ter­scholas­tic League, Texas’ gov­ern­ing body for pub­lic high school sports, is part­ner­ing with the O’Don­nell Brain In­sti­tute at UT South­west­ern Med­i­cal Cen­ter for the project, from which they hope to gauge whether rules or equip­ment changes are im­prov­ing player safety and what more can be done to pro­tect ath­letes.

A state as large as Texas, which has more than 800,000 pub­lic high school ath­letes, would be a key step in de­vel­op­ing a na­tional data­base of brain in­juries in youths, of­fi­cials said. Al­ready, the fed­eral Cen­ters of Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion is seek­ing fed­eral fund­ing for such a data­base.

“Un­til we un­der­stand what the fre­quency of con­cus­sions is across the state, or a re­gion of the state, we can’t de­ter­mine when rule changes, equip­ment changes or things like re­cov­ery pro­grams are re­ally be­ing ef­fec­tive,” said Dr. Munro Cul­lum, a pro­fes­sor of psy­chi­a­try, neu­rol­ogy and neu­rother­a­peu­tics who will lead the study.

All 50 states in re­cent years passed rules or laws to ad­dress con­cus­sions in youth ath­let­ics from re­search to pro­to­cols for iden­ti­fy­ing con­cus­sions and set­ting rules for return to play. The CDC es­ti­mated that al­most four mil­lion con­cus­sions oc­cur in sports and recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties each year, but some ex­perts won­der if those num­bers un­der­es­ti­mate to­tal brain in­juries, as some in­di­vid­u­als may not seek treat­ment for mild or mod­er­ate symp­toms.

The Texas pro­gram will track about two dozen sports, from foot­ball to girls soccer, record­ing what caused an in­jury, re­cov­ery time and other data.

Other states also have re­searched head in­juries.

In Michi­gan, which re­quires schools to re­port con­cus­sions, a re­cent con­cus­sion study showed 755 schools re­ported 4,452 head in­juries in the 2015-16 school year. Foot­ball had the most with 1,907, and girls’ bas­ket­ball ranked No. 2 with 454.

Brazel wins Hong Kong open

B hong kong» Aus­tralia’s Sam Brazel birdied the 18th hole to nar­rowly edge Rafa Cabr­era Bello to cap­ture the Hong Kong Open, his first ti­tle on the Euro­pean Tour.

Ranked 480th in the world, Brazel plays on the Asian Tour and had never had a top-10 Euro­pean Tour fin­ish be­fore. The win gives him au­to­matic en­try into Euro­pean Tour events for the next two years.

Brazel and Cabr­era Bello started the round level at 11-un­der par, but the Aus­tralian sank three con­sec­u­tive birdies on the back nine to take the lead, and then made his birdie putt on the fi­nal hole to nudge the Spa­niard for the ti­tle.

Brazel shot a 68 for an over­all to­tal of 13-un­der 267, while Cabr­era Bello, who had a dou­ble bo­gey on the par-3 8th hole, shot a 69 and fin­ished a stroke back.

Andrew Dodt of Aus­tralia shot a fi­nal-round 66 to tie for third with Tommy Fleet­wood of Eng­land (68), two shots off the leader.

David Lip­sky of the United States carded a 68 to fin­ish in fourth place.

• David Du­val and step­son Nick Kar­avites shot a 10-un­der 62 to win the PNC Father/Son Chal­lenge by one stroke.

Strong is new coach at USF.

Three weeks af­ter be­ing fired by Texas, Charlie Strong was hired to be the coach at South Florida, re­turn­ing to a re­gion where he has deep roots and a con­fer­ence where he has won cham­pi­onships.

Strong was fired by Texas on Nov. 26, the day af­ter coach­ing his fi­nal game with the Longhorns. At USF, he re­places Wil­lie Tag­gart, who left the Tampa school to be­come coach at Ore­gon.

• Stan­ford and Rice will open the 2017 foot­ball sea­son in Syd­ney.

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