New rules coming for high school football
EDMOND — As concern grows over concussions in football, Oklahoma high school coaches are trying to get ahead of the problem to protect their young athletes. New rules are on the way to limit just how much contact players have during practice. It was the first practice where Edmond North players strapped on their shoulder pads and started hitting each other.But with safety at the forefront, coaches warned the players not to take anyone to the ground."They understand, but they want to go more," said Head Coach Scott Burger. "We're not going to let them." Concussions are more likely to happen here at practice rather than in a game. And right now it's coaches who have final say in how much full-contact practice their players have. "In practice, we very rarely do full speed anything," said Burger.A recent study by the Institute of Medicine found for every 10-thousand games and practices, high school players suffered 11.2 concussions. That's nearly twice the number for college players.Coach Burger is among those supporting statewide rules which could limit contact at practice to 60 to 90 minutes over the span of 2 or 3 days. Already several states have adopted similar limits, including Texas and Alabama. Critics call it an attack on the sport of football."I don't think it is," Burger said. "You're still going to play football. You're still going to block and tackle on Thursday, Friday night, Saturday, NFL on Sundays. It's still going to happen." His players at Edmond North will have to wait until their next scrimmage to start knocking each other to the ground. Parents and players have been given info on concussions, and athletes are taught to look where they hit... avoiding anything above the shoulders. But still, injuries will happen on the field. "It'll be on accident," said Burger. "Somebody will get hit. It happens. It's just part of it. But we're trying really, really hard to have that not happen."Burger said, "You can't keep everybody from injury all the time, but we can do stuff to help keep kids from getting injured."Right now the Oklahoma Football Coaches Association is ironing out details of the new guidelines. They would then need to be approved by the OSSAA and could take effect as early as 2015.