Limit Full-Contact Football Practice (2010)
Over 50% of brain trauma in football occurs in practice. Therefore, limiting hitting in practice provides the single greatest opportunity to lower brain trauma exposure. SLI believes that there must be some amount of hitting so that players can learn to play safely, primarily to protect their spine. However, at some unknown point, over-repetition of hitting stops improving spine safety, and starts creating new problems for the brain.
The National Football League (NFL) - SLI firmly believes that football can be taught more safely and with less hitting, and has been the leading advocate for setting limits to full-contact football practice. When the National Football League Players Association created the Mackey-White TBI Committee, Chris Nowinski and Dr. Cantu were named as advisors. They strongly advocated for setting limits to full-contact practice, and after 2011’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, the NFL agreed to allow only 14 days of full-contact practice during the 18 week season, less than one day of full-contact per week. Learn more from USA Today and the New York Post.
The Ivy League – As consultants to The Ivy League Multi-Sports Concussion Committee, Nowinski and Cantu again advocated for limits to full-contact practice days, and in 2011 the Ivy League became the first college conference in America to limit full-contact practices to two days per week, rather than the five allowed by NCAA bylaws. Learn more about the Ivy League’s new regulations from the New York Times and ESPN. Pop Warner – Soon after, Pop Warner announced limits.
Football players do not have a voice in these decisions. At the only level where they have influence on the safety of the game, the professional level through the NFLPA, players have demanded less brain trauma.
SLI believes that if the adult versions of the children playing today had a voice, they would ask for limits as well, and SLI promises to serve as their voice.
Progress on the Issue in Youth and High School Sports
- Alabama State High School Association announced limits to full-contact practice through a bylaw change (2013)
- Arizona Interscholastic Association announced limits to full-contact practice through a bylaw change (2013)
- California recently passed a law that limits middle and high school football full-contact practices to 90 minutes a day, limits the number of full-contact practices during the season to two per week and prohibits contact practices during the off-season (2014).
- Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference announced limits to full-contact practice in spring football, preseason and regular season through a policy change (2014). Read more about the policy change and the CIAC’s expansive concussion education efforts here.
- In May 2014, after a fifteen month campaign by SLI, the Illinois State High School Association passed a bylaw modification that eliminated full-pad football activities during the summer. Before modifying the bylaw, Illinois allowed the most full-contact days of any state with 20. Click here to learn more and read the press release.
- Maryland announced limits to full-contact practice through state law. Learn more from Education Week article here (2013)
- Michigan State High School Association limits in-season contact practices to two per week (2013)
- Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association voted in March, 2015 to limit full contact to 90 minutes per week
- Texas announced limits to full-contact practice through state law (2013)