Designed to protect kids playing football, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Monday regarding full-contact practices in hopes of reducing the number of football-related concussions and brain injuries sustained by high school and middle school football players.
The law AB 2127, which takes effect Jan. 1, prohibits high school and middle school football players from participating in full-contact practices that are more than 90 minutes on a single day, bans teams from holding more than two full-contact practices a week during the regular season, and prohibits teams from conducting contact practices during the off-season.
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Assemblyman Ken Cooley sponsored the bill that was supported by the California Interscholastic Federation, or CIF, which oversees the state’s high school sports.
“AB 2127’s practice guidelines will reassure parents that their kids can learn football safely through three hours of full-contact practice … to maximize conditioning and skill development while minimizing concussion risk,” Cooley said, The Los Angeles Times reported, adding that 19 other states already ban full-contact practices
in the offseason.
“I expect high school coaches to use common sense,” said Sen. Joel Anderson, who voted against the new rule, the Times reported. “I expect them to be professional. I expect them to look at and understand their athletes and I expect them to protect their athletes to the best of their ability.”
Sen. Steve Knight also voted against the bill, saying it would put California high school football players at a competitive disadvantage against more seasoned players from other states in getting college scholarships.
Some California high school coaches say AB 2127 will interfere with their ability to get their teams ready for full contact from opposing teams and avoid injury.
“In the summer, we do need to have full-contact,” said Javier Cid, head football coach of Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles, told the Times. “We do need to figure out who can play. That’s a very important part of our summer practice. That’s how we determine who our starters will be.”
However, Cid said his team has full-contact practices during the season that are shorter than allowed by the legislation and he’s careful to provide the maximum safety for athletes. He also wonders how the state will enforce the new rule.
Before the new law takes effect in January, prep coaches in California this fall will be trying to adjust to a new CIF rule that prohibits practices to no more than 18 hours in a week, the Times said.
Nearly 4 million high school students nationwide suffer head injuries every year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Earlier this spring, National Football League officials announced they were spending $45 million on the “Heads Up” campaign that encourages parents to in turn encourage their children who are football players to adopt proper tackling techniques to help the reduce the chances of concussions and related injuries.
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