By Ken Reed
In the face of research revealing the dangers of repetitive sub-concussive head impact, and declining participation in high school football, the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association has adopted new rules limiting full contact practices.
But not everyone is happy.
The rules limit full contact drills to 15 minutes per week. Preseason full-contact drills are limited to six hours total. New Jersey’s old rules allowed 90 minutes of full-contact practice a week during the season and unlimited preseason full contact practices.
The change was applauded by Jesse Mez, an associate professor of neurology at Boston University and member of the school’s Alzheimer’s Center and CTE Center. Mez says there’s “good evidence” to support the connection between repetitive head impacts and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy).
“I think there are better ways of playing team sports and getting exercise than repeatedly hitting your head,” said Mez.
“But given the country’s interest in football and how much everybody loves it, if we are not going to stop playing, then we should reduce the amount of contact as much as we can.”
Some New Jersey football coaches don’t like the rules, with one coach calling the new rules “insulting” because it takes decision-making regarding how much full contact drills are needed out of the coaches’ hands.
Nevertheless, it’s a trend that won’t be reversed any time soon. In fact, full contact drills may be limited even more so in the future. The NCAA’s Ivy League has already eliminated all full contact work during in-season practices in order to protect the brains of the league’s players.
The new rules might also slow the decline in football participation in New Jersey, a traditional hotbed for high school football. Football participation has fallen for five consecutive years, with parental concerns about the game’s safety the primary reason cited. New Jersey officials hope the new rules will slow the decline in football participation.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO. He discusses the use of Native American names and logos by sports teams and the decisions to drop the Chief Wahoo logo and the upcoming change to the team name. Other baseball topics include health and safety, possible MLB rule changes and youth participation in the sport.
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Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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