Pop Warner Football -- the organization that oversees many kids' tackle football teams across the nation -- recently issued new rules, concerned about the health effects of hard hits on young athletes' brains.
Practice sessions will now limit the amount of contact to one-third of the total practice session, including scrimmages and full-speed drills. The league also is banning full-speed, head-on blocking and tackling drills where players begin at more than three yards apart. At further distances, the force can be greater.
Dr. Stefan Duma, who runs the biomedical engineering program at Virginia Tech, was one of the first scientists to take a detailed look at youth football when he placed high-tech sensors in the helmets of 6- to 8-year-olds.
In March, journalist Stone Phillips reported for the NewsHour about Duma's work with the Auburn Eagles youth football team. Duma followed the Eagles for a complete season in 2011, practices and eight games, and he was surprised to see how many impacts the average 6- to 8-year-old player endured; 107 impacts in a season, with most coming during practices.
Pop Warner cited Duma's work, specifically in making the changes to their guidelines.
1. What is a concussion?
2. How can football players protect themselves during practices and games?
1. Are you active in school sports? If yes, have you or someone you know ever been injured while playing? Discuss.
2. Did you know there was a high number of head injuries related to Pop Warner football?
3. In your opinion, is there a way to make sports safer, or are these risks just a part of playing the game? Discuss.