When studying whether its rule changes have worked, the Competition Committee doesn’t only look at statistics from the NFL. It also studies findings at other levels of football, believing the NFL sets the example.
Thus, a recent story by the National Federation of State High School Associations caught the eye of Competition Committee members, according to a source.
The NFHS found that fewer high school students are participating in football, but the injury risk also has decreased.
“While football is a contact sport and injuries do occur, the risk of serious or catastrophic injuries has never been lower in the history of high school football,” Karissa Niehoff and David Jackson wrote. “In addition, rules are in place to lower the risk of concussion, and the ability to detect and manage concussions has never been higher.”
Participants in 11-player football at the high school level dropped by 20,565 from 2016 to 2017, though the 1.04 million who do play make football the most popular sport for boys.
The NFHS has written its own rules in football since 1932, focusing on risk minimization. In 1970, 35 high school football players died playing the sport, per the story. Two direct deaths occurred in high school football in 2016 and two more in 2017, dropping from an average of 20 annually in the late 1960s and early 1970s before rules changes began.
The rules changes also has helped minimize head injuries at the high school level and has “greatly reduced” incidence of repeat concussions.
All of this the NFL takes as an example of its rules changes filtering down to the other levels of the game.