On July 22, California governor Jerry Brown officially signed State Bill AB 2127 into law. The act puts stringent limitations on the amount and length of full contact drills for high school or middle school football teams, specifically:
- Full contact drills may not exceed 90 minutes in any single day
- Full contact drills may only be held in two practices per week (competitive games do not count against this quota)
- Full contact drills may not be held in the off-season
Put those three limitations together, the picture is about as clear as could be: Teams get two contact practices per week. No more, and, preferably, less.
None of these new rules will go into place until January 2015, but it’s clear that officials will not be particularly flexible about the regulations, even if some coaches have argued that these restrictions will ensure their teams are at greater risk of injury come regular season, less prepared to absorb the physical impact that comes from heated games.
“In the summer, we do need to have full-contact. We do need to figure out who can play,” Los Angeles Roosevelt head coach Javier Cid told the Los Angeles Times’ Eric Sondheimer. “That’s a very important part of our summer practice. That’s how we determine who our starters will be.”
For now, those summer workout traditions will continue, if only for one more year. California’s rather dramatic curtailment of contact workouts is just one shot across the national bow that has been bent by years of student athletes suffering concussions and even more serious head trauma during football games. Texas, often considered the spiritual home of high school football (and high school football excess) already limits full contact practices to just one workout per week.
Both Texas and California will hope that the limitations on contact drills will lead to fewer tragic on field head injuries, and a greater pool of willing parents and athletes to participate in the future as a result. All of that may follow, but only if coaches continue to use common sense about all the rules and regulations facing them and use it to protect their athletes as best they can.
“Football is more violent than any other sport,” Patrick Walsh, the head coach of Serra High in San Mateo told the San Francisco Chronicle. “But my responsibility as coach is to keep the kids as healthy as possible, both in body and mind. … Injured players are not good players.”