Athletes, don't try to be heroes.
Parents, don't let the love for your children or the emotional attachment to the games they play cloud your judgment.
Schools, youth sports organizations and communities, employ and empower athletic trainers.
Coaches, take the symptoms of a possible head injury every bit as seriously as you would treat the signs of a broken bone or damaged knee ligament.
Friends and family, don't be afraid to speak up.
I encourage you to slowly and carefully digest the enormous volume of text about concussions in today's section. But if I had to summarize the finer points in five sentences or less, what you see above is what you'd get. And I pray it's the bare minimum you'll take away from this project.
Concussions aren't going away. Couple our increased understanding of the science with the proliferation of athletes that are bigger, stronger and faster, and the number of diagnosed head injuries is guaranteed to increase.
The extreme thinkers in the gallery have proposed everything from a return to leather helmets in football (say what?) to the banishment of "heading" the ball from youth soccer leagues.
To the extent that those changes would change the fabric of the game, trust me, they'll never happen. Awareness is our only weapon.
It's a funny thing about awareness: There's a diminishing returns principle attached to it. For example, some of us, heaven forbid, are already desensitized to yellow armbands and pink ribbons as an indirect tool in the fight against cancer.
Likewise, we can't click over to ESPN or thumb through Time and Sports Illustrated now without watching or reading another concussion horror story. Middle-aged men, some of them outwardly healthy, are contemplating multi-million dollar lawsuits in an effort to recoup a portion of what concussions might have cost them.
We live in an excessively litigious society, and it rightfully annoys many of us to no end. You and I may see professional football players as willing participants, no more worthy of sympathy than those who might retroactively proclaim that fast food or cigarettes wrecked their quality of life.
Regardless of whether or not those theories pass your personal sniff test, I implore you, please don't let it cloud your view of the issue as it relates to our youngest athletes.
Young people's brains are in a cycle of growth of development, even after they reach the agreed-upon age of adulthood. One concussion can complicate that cycle. Two or more concussions may short-circuit it in ways we are only beginning to understand.
So before you lie to a doctor or a coach about that lingering headache, or before you assent to your child's return to play one week, two weeks or six months after a frightening episode, remember to count the cost.
This is Maine, folks. You know that NCAA commercial where the swimmer or the shot putter declares that "most of us will be going pro in something other than sports?" Change that wording to 99.99 percent of us.
Here in the hinterland, the odds of your son or daughter even achieving a Division I scholarship are more remote than Kokadjo or Fort Kent. When the athlete you love is being treated for a concussion, he or she should be a evaluated as a future husband or wife, father or mother, accountant or teacher, not as a star athlete.
Concussions interrupt sleep and learning patterns. They transform 'A' and 'B' students into stunted thinkers who can't even concentrate long enough to take a 10-question quiz. They turn happy-go-lucky into heartsick. Mood swings and depression are after effects common as dizziness and light sensitivity.
Returning to the field or court before a first concussion has healed is more foolhardy than increasing your speed on an icy, winding road. So-called second impact syndrome can lead to life-altering complications, even sudden death.
We hear this information and process it regularly, but I question whether or not it's sinking in. In casual, preliminary discussions of this project, I encountered an alarming number of shoulder-shrug responses, sharing a common theme of "I'm sure I played with concussions back in my day, and look how I turned out."
I wasn't sure if they waiting for me to nod my head in old-school, middle-aged agreement or drop a punch line.
What was no laughing matter is that too many of these respondents were parents of current athletes. When the conversation is over, you're left to hope and pray that each school's concussion protocol is strong enough to outweigh dad and mom's "what-me-worry?" attitude if Junior ever gets separated from his senses.
This chain of command, still in its developmental stage in too many communities throughout America, is only as strong as its weakest link.
Athletes and their families must take concussions seriously as neurosurgeons, athletic trainers and media watchdogs in order for any procedures to be worth the paper upon which they're printed.
As for me, I'd rather pen a thousand preemptive strikes than one postmortem tribute to a boy or girl who was taken from us because the chain was broken.
Kalle Oakes is a staff columnist. His email is email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter (@Oaksie72).