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Catherine Holecko

Safer Pop Warner football

By June 15, 2012

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This week, the Pop Warner youth football organization announced two new safety rules designed to lower players' risk of head injury. Teams will not be able to hold "full-speed, head-on blocking or tackling drills in which the players line up more than 3 yards apart." They also must reduce the amount of contact at each practice "to a maximum of one-third of practice time." These rules will take effect starting with the 2012 season.

Since most concussions happen during practice, not games, these rules could go a long way toward reducing the number and severity of injuries to football players. About 400,000 kids, ages 5 to 15, play Pop Warner football.

"We need to ... take the unnecessary head contact out of the game," said Julian Bailes, MD, a neurosurgeon and chair of the Pop Warner Medical Advisory Board. If parents were considering allowing their child to play football, this (move) should assure them." What do you think? Does your child play, or want to play, tackle football? Do you find these changes reassuring?

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