As the concerns over head trauma issues continue to have an impact on participation rates in youth football, state high school associations are scrambling to address the issue. Now Texas has taken a particularly interesting step to shore up concerns.
In October, Texas’ University Interscholastic League (UIL) announced plans to force all high school and junior high school football coaches to be certified in how to teach safe tackling techniques before the start of the 2018 season. Those regulations are now in effect, and on Tuesday UIL and the Texas High School Coaches Association (THSCA) announced they selected Washington company Atavus Sports to oversee the certification program.
That selection is an enormous boon to Atavus, which has pledged to provide both on-site and online certification for all Texas coaches. The contract to certify all the state’s coaches is likely a mutlimillion-dollar pledge.
“We know that Texas is widely regarded as the pinnacle of high school football,” Atavus Sports CEO Karen Bryant told the Houston Chronicle. “We’re thrilled they have decided to take action and lead the way in recognizing that tackling is an important part of the game. We certainly hope that other states follow Texas’s lead and implement similar certification processes in their organizations.”
While Atavus is most famous for its work with high profile collegiate programs — Washington, Ohio State, Nebraska, Michigan State and Rutgers are among their prior clients — it has also provided consulting services with a handful of Texas high schools including Rockwall, Waxahachie, Westbrook and Brownwood. That experience within the state surely opened up doors, though it doesn’t necessarily ease what are sure to be political tensions about the state using an out-of-state vendor for a project that will be funded by significant state tax dollars.
“Preventing injuries is paramount for all coaches and players, and we felt that as an organization it was our duty to seek out the best possible solutions to keeping our players safe,” THSCA executive director D.W. Rutledge told the Chronicle.
That may be true, it’s just sad that an organization like UIL would determine those solutions couldn’t be delivered by any organization based in Texas.