By Glen Lerner, a personal injury lawyer with over 25 years of experience in cases dealing with head injuries, medical malpractice and much more.
Over the past several years, there has been a lot of attention focused on the potential long-term and dangerous side effects from head injuries football players can sustain.
Multiple class-action lawsuits filed against the National Football League (NFL), the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), as well as several helmet makers has revealed just how dangerous the sport can be without proper protection and regulations.
Studies have shown that it is not just adult football players who are at risk of dangerous side effects from head trauma. Children can be left with serious damage too.
Currently, there is no way to determine what the long-term effects of a concussion can be for a person. One player may receive a few concussions and have no lasting side-effects, while another player may get one concussion and have a difficult time recovering.
This issue has prompted action on the part of USA Football, the organization that oversees Pop Warner football, to implement rule changes which will protect the young players who take to the field. Children between the ages of 5 to 14 can participate in Pop Warner football.
According to a recent announcement from the organization, they will be implementing these changes in order to cover the gap that currently exists between full-time tackle and flag football. These rules will be introduced in select leagues throughout the country for the 2017 season.
Some of these new rules include decreasing the number of players allowed on the field from 11 players to either six or nine players, eliminating special teams, and using smaller fields.
Linemen will no longer be able to start in a three-point stance, but will instead need to start in a crouching position. Coaches will also now be required to make sure that players lined up against one another are of the same size.
In the past year or two, Pop Warner had already implemented rule changes which limit contact in practices, as well as teach players different tackling techniques. These changes were made because of the concern for head safety.
The new changes that are being implemented are getting mixed reactions from coaches and parents. One Pop Warner coach voiced his concern that by only allowing players to face off with same-sized players, they will be left unprepared when faced with players who are bigger and outweigh them if they move on to middle and high school football.
Another coach pointed out that because of all the attention that has been put on head trauma dangers, the number of children who sign up for Pop Warner football has decreased over the past couple of years.
With everything we have learned about the dangerous and long-term effects of head injuries to football players, it is good to see that USA Football is taking the steps to protect young players from suffering the same physical traumas many of the adult players have been left to struggle with.