At a time when many NFL players are saying that the game of football is so fundamentally unsafe that they wouldn’t allow their children to play, the nation’s premiere youth football organization is taking steps to make the game safer.
Pop Warner football has announced that coaches will be required to make at least two-thirds of their practice time non-contact, and during the one-third of the time with contact, there will be no full-speed, head-on blocking or tackling drills in which players line up more than three yards apart.
“Pop Warner’s rule changes are based on research that shows that more concussions occur in practice than during games,” said Dr. Julian Bailes, chairman of the Pop Warner medical advisory board. “The impact of head-to-head contact causes the most severe concussions, so we felt it was imperative that Pop Warner take a proactive approach and limit contact in practices.”
This makes sense from a safety perspective, and it also makes sense from a football perspective: Coaches can still teach their young players proper form in blocking and tackling without allowing players to get a full head of steam by lining up more than three yards apart and running straight into each other. Players can still line up more than three yards apart for blocking and tackling drills that involve approaching an opponent from an angle, just not to run straight into each other.
Some may see this initiative as making football more soft, but the reality is it makes football more safe.