Pop Warner has adopted new rules to protect its young football players from increased risk of head and brain injuries. Slated to be implemented this summer, the new rules limit the ways young players hit each other and how much physical contact is allowed.
Brain injuries are not limited to professional sports; brain injuries also extend into youth leagues. With the concern about concussions and other head injuries capturing national attention, Pop Warner believes it is taking action at the right time. “This is our time to step up,” said the executive director of Pop Warner.
“We know that subconcussive blows occur and that they can cause changes in the brain structure and brain function,” said the chairman of the Pop Warner Medical Advisory Board and codirector of the NorthShore Neurological Institute in Chicago. By implementing these new rules, he believes this is the best way to decrease exposure to head injuries caused by concussions as well as smaller, accumulated hits.
When the new rules go into effect, they will completely ban head-on blocking or tackling drills that begin with players lined up more than three yards apart. Additionally, they will limit full-contact drills to no more than one-third of a team’s practice time. The organization will also reemphasize existing league rules that bar players from leading with their head when they block and tackle.
According to the North Philly Hurricanes president, her team already follows these regulations. However, there are plenty that do not. The Langhorne-based Pop Warner league is the first youth sports league to take such steps to minimize brain injuries. With 285,000 football players ages five to 15, the new rules should ensure that coaches and players are forced to practice safety.
Source: Philly.com, “New Pop Warner football rules aimed at reducing head injuries,” Jonathan Tamari, June 14, 2012.