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Concerned about Safety? We are too

Taking Action to Prevent Concussions from Occurring

  • Rule changes make previously legal, dangerous contact (hitting with the helmet, etc.) now illegal
  • Changes to blocking and tackling techniques
  • Annual Coaches Training and Certification to insure the safest techniques are learned and used
  • Reducing contact in practices
  • Significant and continual improvements to helmets and equipment

Taking Action to Prioritize Player Health and Safety when Potential Concussions Do Occur

  • The Zachary Lystedt Law requires players to be removed from play with any signs or symptoms of concussion and requires medical clearance before returning to play.
  • Requiring all coaches to complete annual Health & Safety certification training, including Concussion Awareness and Response.
  • Providing Certified Athletic Trainers at games to assess and treat all injuries including Concussions.

Brain injury in NFL players has raised awareness and led to changes at all levels of the sport.  Youth football, and our league specifically, has taken actions to reduce risk and improve player safety. 

Youth football has been comparatively safe, even before the many changes in recent years, and parents are often surprised to learn that the risk of concussions is significantly present in other sports their children participate in (see below).

Most of what has been learned about concussions and treatment is relatively recent as are the changes that have been implemented to improve player safety - and we're confident that ongoing research will show youth football becoming even safer.

Player Safety and Concussions

News stories regarding concussions in professional football have fueled debate about the safety of football from youth to the pros.  On the positive side, it has led to changes to rules and policies, improved equipment, increased awareness and education,  and increased research - making the game safer.  On the negative side, it has led to fears and assumptions based on emotions - not on facts.  Here are the facts:

  • The NFL, and all professional sports, represent unique risk and involve the the world's biggest, strongest and fastest athletes.  More than 3 million kids play youth football, more than 1 million play high school football - and there are only 2,000 players in the NFL.
  • News stories linking brain issues to football are mostly specific to professional football - in particular the examination of 111 donated brains from the tens of thousands that played professional football.
  • Research published by the Mayo Clinic determined that athletes that played football through high school did not have an increased risk of neurodegenerative disease overall or of the individual conditions of dementia, parkinsonism, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
  • Research published in the Journal of American Medicine (JAMA) examined athletes that played football through high school indicates no harmful association between playing football through high school and increased cognitive impairment later in life.
  • All physical activities, including sports, carry the risk of injury - safety should always be taken seriously.  For kids 14 years old and younger the risk of injury in football, including head injury, is comparable to, or even lower than, many other sports and activities.
  • Is youth football safe?  It's comparatively safe as other sports and activities (see below).  None of which are without risk.

Making Youth Football a Better and Safer Game

The Washington Junior Football League and its members make player safety our top priority.  Our commitment to USA Football and the Heads Up program requires concussion awareness education for coaches, parents and players.  It requires training and certification for all coaches that includes safe and proper tackling and blocking techniques, equipment fitting and more.