Youth Football Starts to Change

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Pop Warner is initiating big changes in football practice:


As scrutiny of the impact of football has escalated, studies have shown that younger players can face repetitive brain trauma similar to that sustained at the college level -- and perhaps even more acutely, because their brains are not fully developed and require longer rest periods after injury. Pop Warner officials said they were persuaded to alter their rules by research earlier this year showing that players as young as 7 are exposed to collisions as severe as those at the college level. 

Under its new rules, effective for the coming season, which starts in August, contact will not be allowed for two-thirds of each practice -- a move prompted by research showing that most of the hardest hits in youth football occur not in games, but in practice. The organization is also forbidding all drills that involve full-speed, head-on blocking and tackling that begins with players lined up more than three yards apart, as well as head-to-head contact. 

"The science shows that this should be done," said Dr. Julian Bailes, chairman of the Pop Warner medical advisory board and co-director of the NorthShore Neurological Institute in Illinois. "We think right off the bat that with this change we can eliminate 60-plus percent of the brain impacts or concussions."

It's been a while (obviously) since I played Pop Warner. But my recollection is that contact was a dominant aspect. I think this means the end of Bull In The Ring, though maybe not Oklahoma. Either way it's a good move. The scary thing  is that it still may not be enough. 
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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