New Pop Warner football rules limit contact in practice

In a front-page story, the New York Times reports, “In response to growing concerns over head injuries in football, Pop Warner, the nation’s largest youth football organization, announced rule changes that will limit the amount of full-speed collisions and other contact allowed in practice.”

The problem “of brain injuries sustained on the football field has forced a reckoning at all levels of the sport in recent years.” These “new rules, which will affect hundreds of thousands of youth football players, some as young as five years old, were seen as the latest acknowledgment that the nation’s most popular sport poses dangers to the long-term cognitive health of its athletes.”

The Chicago Tribune reports that Pop Warner coaches will now “only be allowed to have full-speed hitting – including one-on-one blocking and tackling, contact between linemen and scrimmages – for one-third of their weekly practice time.” In the past, “there were no restrictions on contact time. Also barred are any head-to-head, full-speed blocking or tackling drills in which players start more than three yards apart.”

Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports, “Pop Warner said it’s the first youth organization to limit contact in practice.”

The AP reports, “Some parents have voiced worry about letting their children play football, and the National Sporting Goods Association and the National Federation of State High School Associations have each recorded very slight declines in participation in recent years – though doctors are reluctant to declare the changes a trend just yet.”

The USA Today “Game On” blog points out that “the NFL is currently wrestling with the issue of blows to the head and facing lawsuits by thousands of retired players.”

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