Fall is right around the corner and football season is back. In an effort to raise the bar on football safety, and awareness of the risks associated with head injuries and concussions, the National Football League and Pop Warner leagues are joining forces to promote the Heads Up Football safety program.
Pop Warner youth football leagues have been around since 1929, and participation has grown steadily to days level of more 250,000 participants across the country. The leagues are founded on the concept that kids of similar age and size will compete against each other. Players learn concepts like trust, teamwork and perseverance that will serve them well their entire lives. Many of those involved with the NFL, be they players, coaches, referees or league officials, were first exposed to football through their participation in a Pop Warner league. That is why to two organizations are a natural fit for the Heads Up Football program.
The Heads Up Football program was developed in 2012 by USA Football, football’s national governing body, with the support of the NFL. According to Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, the Heads Up Football program ” makes the game safer by teaching players to keep their heads up and out of the line of contact, training and certifying coaches on the fundamentals of safety, appointing Player Safety Coaches for every youth league to enforce safety protocols, ensuring proper equipment fitting, and teaching coaches, parents and players how to recognize and treat a concussion under protocols from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” To this end, the Heads Up Football website offers a treasure trove of information, with video links, on specific topics such as Education and Certification, Concussion Awareness, Equipment Fitting, Heads Up Tackling, and much more.
Knowledge is power, and that is what the program is all about. More than 200 Pop Warner leagues are adopting the program this year, and hundreds more are slated to do so in 2014. Perhaps the program will serve as a model for other sports to identify and address the significant safety issues they face.
Bret Hanna of Wrona DuBois in Utah, focuses exclusively on litigating plaintiffs’ medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has represented clients in state and federal courts, in mediations, and in administrative proceedings in Michigan and Utah since 1991.