As I wrote a few weeks ago, my father did not let me play organized, tackle football when I was growing up. Wow, did that make me angry. But right now, I’m thankful for his caution.
Pop Warner Football — the umbrella organization that oversees many kids’ tackle football teams across the nation — issued new rules on Thursday, concerned about the health effects of hard hits on young athletes’ brains.
Practice sessions will now limit the amount of contact to one-third of the total practice session, including scrimmages and full-speed drills. The league also is banning full-speed, head-on blocking and tackling drills where players begin at more than three yards apart. At further distances, the force can be greater.
These changes are directly related to groundbreaking research by Virginia Tech’s Dr. Stefan Duma.
He placed high-tech sensors in the helmets of 6- to 8-year-olds. Duma’s 2011 study of youth players used accelerometers to track the force moving the brain with each hard hit and revealed some helmet-to-helmet impacts registering as high as 50 to 100 on a G-force scale. Duma compared this to his work with athletes on the Virginia Tech team. A severe collision in college football registered 80 Gs in his research.
GMP readers, would you let your children play tackle football?
Photo by: jdanvers