NPR Story
1:30 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

New California Football Law Tackles Brain Injuries Head-On

In a few weeks, high school football players across the country will begin training for the season to come. In California, come January 1st, those practices will be different.

Governor Jerry Brown this week signed a new law that limits full-contact drills for all teams in public and private middle and high schools. The legislation comes amid concerns about concussions and brain injuries in football.

California Assemblyman Ken Cooley, who sponsored the bill, told Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson that California is following a model implemented by the NFL to minimize concussions. Where the NFL has reduced head injuries, high schools still have work to do.

“Hundreds of thousands of kids in American high school football programs are getting concussions,” he said. “And medical folks who’ve done the surveys say two-thirds to three-quarters of the concussions are coming out of practice when they’re playing with their buddies.”

The new bill will require students who get concussions to be out for one week in order to facilitate healing. It also limits the amount of full-contact practices per week.

Cooley says he’s not concerned that the new safety measures could impact California’s competitive edge against other big high school sports states.

“Coaches are not gonna need three hours a week of hard-hitting practice to develop talent,” Cooley explained. “The game has evolved.”

Guest

  • Ken Cooley, California state assemblyman representing the 8th Assembly District. He tweets @KenCooley.
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