Football has entrenched itself as the most popular sport in America, but what we know of as the sport may not be what it will be in the future. Though we love it for what it is, most reasonable people can acknowledge that the rules as is do not protect the players as best they could. As football moves forward decisions will need to be made on the balance between the on-field action and the long term effects of that action. That is another discussion entirely, but in the mean time the NFL is doing its best to ensure that not only its players, but the youth playing the sport that are just as if not more vulnerable to the injuries.
Through it’s umbrella organization USA Football, the NFL has instituted a new program called Heads Up to provide resources to leagues, coaches, and parents of youth football to prevent and address health and safety issues, specifically dealing with concussions.
It is great to see a professional league take interest beyond its scope and address its sport for all fans and participants.
The letter from Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner, announcing Heads Up is below:
|To NFL Fans:Like you, we are ready to get “Back to Football.” And like you, we want to help ensure that young athletes participating in sports this fall are playing safely.The health and safety of players at all levels of the game is our first priority. Among our most important initiatives is helping athletes and their coaches know the signs and symptoms of concussion; and what to do if they suspect an athlete has a head injury. Through the leadership of our NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee and partnerships with organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we are finding new ways to protect players, adapt to scientific discoveries, and promote a culture of safety.
We applaud USA Football, the sport’s national governing body and the expert in player development and coaching education, on the launch this week of its Heads Up Football program, a health and safety resource for parents, coaches and players.
As part of Heads Up Football, you can learn about the importance of properly fitted equipment, prevention and treatment of concussions from the CDC, youth football rules, and the basics of proper “Heads Up Tackling.” To learn more, visitusafootball.com.
We are committed to the safety of young athletes, no matter what sport they play. This off-season, we announced our role in a multi-partner youth football helmet replacement program for underserved communities. The initiative will replace helmets that are 10 years old or older with new helmets at no cost to beneficiary leagues. With our partners in this campaign, including the NFL Players Association, we committed a combined total of approximately $1 million to the program, which will provide thousands of new helmets to youth football players in low-income communities.
With the support of the NFL, youth concussion laws have been passed so far in 39 states and the District of Columbia, protecting young athletes from returning to play too soon. We will continue our advocacy for this law in the remaining states.
To learn more about our health and safety work for athletes of the past, present and future, visit nfl.com/evolution and look out for two televised messages that will debut this season. We join with you in celebrating the return of the game we all love. Here’s to a safe and exciting season.