CONCUSSION CONCERNS: Pop Warner Steps Up Its Rules about Kids and Hits to the Head
In what amounts to a move that really shouldn’t surprise anyone, Pop Warner Football has announced a number of measures to help protect its young players to try and prevent concussions.
This comes, of course, after more than 2,000 lawsuits have been filed by former NFL players against the NFL regarding concussions. Colleges and high schools are also stepping up their rules to prevent concussions. And now, faced with studies that suggest kids under the age of 10 might be subjected to concussions that resemble the force of a college hit, Pop Warner is now telling youth coaches to limit practice blocking and tackling drills to no more than a third of their weekly practice time. Just like the Ivy League which now limits full-on tackling in practice to no more than two days a week during the season, Pop Warner is also radically changing thier approach.
In additon to limited practice time for contact, Pop Warner is also recommending that kids be taught how to tackle opposing ball carriers from the side as opposed to head-on. Traditional drills like the “bull in the ring” where one player is surrounded by teammates in practice and then has to tackle or block a kid from any direction is also being discouraged.
Of course, Pop Warner has to be concerned about legal liability when it comes to kids getting their bell rung. And on a larger scale, one has to wonder if this will seriously cut back on youth football in the years to come. Top neurosurgeons are suggesting that the necks of young players are not strong enough to protect one from a serious concussion, and as such, are recommending that kids not start playing tackle football until they are at least 14.
Friends, as noted before, I really worry if we’re rapidly approaching a time where sports parents are going to actively encourage their kids to play other sports that don’t involve serious contact.