With concerns about head-related injuries in football at an all-time high, USA Football announced today that its Heads Up Football Program is in all 50 states for the first time, including high schools in 60 of the largest school districts across the country.
Enrolled school districts and schools receive access to USA Football’s Heads Up Football online curriculum at NFHSLearn.com and may attend Heads Up Football in-person trainings in their area. USA Football conducted more than 400 in-person seminars through the program this year. Heads Up Football-enrolled school districts and schools are responsible for ensuring that their coaches complete the program’s certification.
The announcement comes at the same time as the numbers of high school football players are dropping. While high school football had the highest number of participants of any sport at 1,086,748 in the last school year, the overall numbers in 11-man football fell by 25,901 participants compared to the 2015-16 school year, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.
A recent study from Boston University showed a high incidence of Chronic Traumatic Encephalapthy (CTE) in former NFL players.
“Implementing Heads Up Football across our district benefits our student-athletes and helps coaches in all of our sports buy in to important protocols to teach and play them safer,” Greenville (S.C.) County Schools Athletics Director Darryl Nance said in a release provided by USA Football. “Through education and consistent delivery of skill and technique taught in the Heads Up Football program, we have had a notable increase in football player safety through a declining concussion rate. Our coaches, players, parents and medical professionals support Heads Up Football and the positive difference it has brought to our schools.”
While some school districts in all of the states are teaching Heads Up Football, only two state associations require coaches to be certified in the program or one similar to it. The Oregon School Activities Association requires that coaches complete certification in Heads Up Football and the Vermont Principals’ Association requires that coaches take the USA Football course through the NFHS or participate in a similar course by the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention.