Three teams, 50 players ages 9 to 12, four concussions and nearly 12,000 measurable blows to the head.
The National Football League has again amended its rules to penalize teams whose players use their heads as battering rams; the rule change is one of several over the last few years aimed to reduce the frequency and severity of concussions, the understanding of which is based on continuing research into how the brain reacts from repeated blows.
The NFL, colleges and high school leagues continue to amend rules as more data accumulate from helmet sensors on the force of impacts encountered during specific types of contact, and as medical evidence mounts as to the cumulative effect on players’ brains, not just from one tremendous blow but from many, less severe ones.
Yet two-thirds of the football players now suiting up for practice across the country are younger than 14 and are just as, if not more, vulnerable to brain injuries because coaches and parents don’t yet get it: The youngsters are taking collegiate-sized whops to the head, and they’re happening not just on game day but at practice, day in and day out.
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