The start of a new school year signals the start of high school football season. But a law recently enacted by the California legislature seeks to change the way coaches and players gear up for the new season.
The law, which goes into effect January 1, addresses growing concern about the long-term damage caused by concussions and other high-impact sports injuries by limiting the number of hours that middle school and high school football players can engage in physical contact. During the regular season (league sanctioned games notwithstanding), players are limited to three hours of physical contact per week. During the off-season, no physical contact is allowed.
Football Dangerous at All Levels
There’s no doubt that football is an inherently risky sport, and even with pads and helmets, injuries are commonplace. High school football players face the highest risk of injury. A 2013 study conducted by the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council found that high school football players are twice as likely to suffer a concussion compared to their collegiate counterparts.
The number of former NFL players coming out and speaking to the long-lasting effects of concussions they incurred during the game has also helped to spur changes. Last year, the NFL settled a lawsuit brought by former NFL players and their families for $765 million. The suit alleged that the NFL deliberately neglected to provide players with accurate information regarding the long-term damage caused by repeated concussions and other high-impact injuries.
Growing awareness of how concussions may permanently alter a player’s brain has led many states to implement stricter guidelines regarding the handling of concussions and other high-impact injuries. Passage of the new law makes California the 19th state to limit the amount of physical contact high school football players can engage in during practice.
Proponents of the law hope that decreasing the amount of physical contact allowed between football players outside of regularly scheduled games will decrease the number of concussion and concussion-related damages, thus minimizing the long-term damage from such injuries.
Opponents of the law, however, argue that limiting the amount of physical contact during practice may actually increase the number of injuries players sustain during the game. Just as important as learning how to tackle is learning how to safely be tackled. Opponents argue that the less time players spend being tackled, the less ready they’ll be to properly absorb the tackle during a game, thus increasing their risk of injury.
Bay Area Personal Injury Attorney
If your son or daughter has suffered a concussion or other sports-related injury, the school or sports league may be liable for your child’s injuries. Appel Law Firm LLP is a personal injury law firm and has successfully litigated personal injury cases involving traumatic brain injuries. If you would like to speak with an attorney to discuss whether the school or sports team has any responsibility for the injuries, call the Appel Law Firm LLP toll-free at 888-511-6905, or send us a message via our contact form. Our office is conveniently located near the Walnut Creek BART station.