California schools will be limiting the number of hours and days that their football teams can practice tackling and other game simulated hitting plays under a bill signed Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown. The California legislature responded to concerns about concussions and brain injuries that affect thousands of students.
The new law will become effective on January first of 2015. It will apply to all middle and high schools public and private. The law limits full-contact practices to two 90-minute sessions per week during the season and preseason, and full-contact practices during the offseason are prohibited.
The current law allows coaches to conduct full-contact practices daily. The new law will also force schools to rest players for a minimum of one week if they suffer a concussion. Players can return to the lineup within a day under existing rules.
California is not alone in passing this type of Legislation. There are more than 20 states with laws about concussions, treating concussions and when to allow players to get back on the field. Another 20 are working on proposals. Texas, another high school powerhouse, currently limits full contact practice to only one 90-minute session per week.
Local Coaches support the new law. “I believe the law has the best intentions of preserving the game and the health of the players” Temescal Canyon Coach Phil Cohen said. “Like all laws, the devil is in the details of each clause and how it is enforced. Most teams only have full contact twice a week now. My concern is between CIF regulations on the number of practices, the limited number of days before the first game and having full contact only twice a week may not provide enough practice for players to attain competence in the skills necessary to compete safely”
“I totally understand why this new rule is coming about” Paloma Valley Coach Bert Eposito said. “The only issues I have with it is how we will determine the parameters of what is full contact consisting of, as there are many different opinions on this. Secondly, how will this be monitored? We will all do our best to stay within these parameters as soon as it is decided what they are.”
“I personally believe that this is not the best way to deal with the issues but I believe it is better to put our efforts into holding coaches more accountable in the coaching aspects of football especially with youth football,” Esposito said.
The new law places restrictions that represent the most aggressive attempts to reduce concussions and other head injuries that occur in youth football. The California Interscholastic Federation, the National Federation of State High School Association and the Brain Injury Association of California supported the bill that was sponsored by Rancho Cordova Assemblyman Ken Cooley.
A student-athlete suspected of sustaining a concussion or head injury must be removed from athletic activity for the remainder of the day. The Student athlete will not be able to return to and resume athletic activity until being cleared by a licensed health care provider.