Is youth tackle football on the way out?

Photo: Michael Chow, Arizona Republic

Is youth tackle football on the way out?

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Is youth tackle football on the way out?

Two California lawmakers have introduced a bill that would ban organized tackle football before high school. The state legislature is expected to take up the “Safe Youth Football Act” in its spring session.

The proposed bill, according to reports by many California media outlets, would “prevent young athletes from sustaining long-term brain damage caused by repetitive tackling, hitting and blocking.”

Football safety has been debated and dissected in Arizona by parents and coaches who want kids in as safe an environment as possible. It’s not surprising, given the swirl of concussions, CTE and lawsuits surrounding football at the highest levels.

If this becomes law in California, might similar legislation follow elsewhere?

New tactics being introduced at youth level

There is nothing similar pending in Arizona, but HB 2088 would require schools notify a student’s parent or guardian if officials suspect the student sustained a concussion during a practice or game.

Currently, schools have to immediately remove students who may have suffered a concussion from any athletic activity, and parents and guardians have to sign forms acknowledging the risks of concussions.

Some schools may already have such a policy, but explicit notification to parents is currently not required by law.

In the meantime, as high school coaches are getting ready for spring football in a month, there are plenty of opinions about safety in football and the California proposal.

Currently, schools have to immediately remove students who may have suffered a concussion from any athletic activity, and parents and guardians have to sign forms acknowledging the risks of concussions.

Some schools may already have such a policy, but explicit notification to parents is currently not required by law.

“I’ll say this,” said former Northwestern and Cardinals running back Damien Anderson, who helped guide his son, Drake, through youth football and at Chandler High, where he made All-Arizona last season. “With information out there, parents are aware and they’re concerned about risks and injuries associated with playing the game. The physicality.”

Thousands of kids play youth tackle football in Arizona. It is considered the launching pad to high school football stardom. And with so much information about the risks associated with head injuries, new tactics have been introduced at the youth and high school level to address these issues.

In 2016, Pop Warner eliminated the kickoff to reduce the amount of full, head-on collisions.

Five years ago, the youth football giant mandated that all Pop Warner coaches had to be trained in USA Football’s Heads up Football (HUF) to assure safe tackling and blocking techniques were being taught.

Three years ago, it became prohibited to have full-speed, head-on block and tackling drills that were more than three yards apart.

Two years ago, 25 percent of practices were limited to contact time.

Like high school, college and the pros, Pop Warner has concussion protocols, where youths suspected of a concussion must go through a series of tests and be cleared by medical personnel before playing again.

For the full story, visit the Arizona Republic

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Is youth tackle football on the way out?
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