Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Researcher: Officials should do more to protect prep football players

Football officials must throw more flags to protect high school football players from serious brain injuries , according to Dr. Fred Mueller, one of the authors of the annual survey of catastrophic football injuries.

Last year, 13 high school football players suffered catastrophic brain injuries, the most recorded since the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research began tracking brain injuries in 1984, according to data released Monday.

“In the 1960s and ’70s we had a spike in deaths and catastrophic injuries in high school football,” Mueller said. “There were rules changes in 1976 that made it illegal to lead with the head while tackling or blocking and the safety improved dramatically. It is too early to say for sure yet, we need a couple of more years’ data, but I fear we are headed back up.”

Mueller said the solution for the increase in brain injuries is for coaches do a better job of teaching the proper techniques and for officials to call more violations.

“You don’t see a lot of flags thrown for leading with the head,” Mueller said. “But if the officials will call it, the coaches will make sure they teach it.”

The National Federation of State High School Associations, which writes the rules for high school football, has made rule changes in an effort to reduce head injuries, including concussions. The run up distance on kickoffs has been shortened and players who lose their helmets will be sent to the sidelines.

“There is no doubt that the high school players are being influenced by what they are seeing in the NFL,” Mueller said. “The emphasis on the big hit with the excitement of the announcers and the playing of the hit over and over in replays is having an impact. And the thoughts of a bounty system for injuring players is disturbing.”

-- Tim Stevens, Raleigh News & Observer


Anonymous said...

One simple solution that shouldn't be met with any resistance from anyone at all would be to enforce a 15 yard penalty for any player whose helmet comes off during a play.
The helmet won't protect you if its not on properly and obviously if it's falling off because you're tackling, blocking, being tackled or being blocked, then its not on properly.

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