New Guidelines to Limit Contact Practice for High School Footballl
About the New Practice Guidelines
As evidence mounts of the risk of brain damage from the accumulation of routine collisions in football, new guidelines for Michigan high schools call for no more than 90 minutes of full-contact practice a week.
The guidelines would put Michigan along with other states like Alabama, Iowa, Kansas, Georgia, Texas, California, and Tennessee, all of which have moved to limit practice contact to 90 minutes a week.
However, there is a catch– the new guidelines are just a recommendation not a mandate. The official requirement of the Michigan High School Athletic Association still allows six hours of full-contact practice a week
In the meantime, concern over the dangers of football has been heightened in recent years by building evidence of a link between the sport and a debilitating brain condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy – or CTE.
Purdue University concussion researcher Larry Leverenz noted that repeated studies have shown that potential brain damage in football players is directly tied to the number of blows to the head, even if the player did not suffer from a concussion.
“You can decrease the risk without changing the game. Limiting the amount of hits in practice is one way of doing that,” Leverenz said.
Russ McKenzie, athletic director at Lamphere High School in Madison Heights suburban Detroit, backed the 90-minute full-contact guideline as a member of MHSAA's Football Committee. Passed by that committee in January, the guideline was approved by the MHSSA governing council in May.
The Impact Of Taking Hits to the Head
- A 2012 Purdue University study tracked a couple dozen high school football players over two seasons and found that players logged anywhere from 200 to 1,800 hits to the head over the course of a season.
- MRI tests found that 17 players – who wore special helmets equipped with sensors – had measurable changes to their brain, with the magnitude of change corresponding to the number of hits to the head a player took. None of the players logged having a concussion.