Stricter concussion rules for Pop Warner football

The largest youth football organization in the world is re-writing its rule book to try to protect your kids from brain injuries.

Pop Warner, which governs about 280,000 players across the country including right here in Northern Michigan announced new guidelines Wednesday.

Youth football is a huge part of Dave Kenny's life. He is running a summer camp for elementary students this week, and in the fall he's the head freshman coach at Traverse City West High School. Coach Kenny has seen first hand what concussions can do to young athletes.

Coach Kenny says, "It's scary, he tried really hard to tell us I can play, I'm ready to go, but he couldn't remember what day it was he didn't know his middle name. That was a powerful experience for me."

The kids he's coaching at the camp will be playing Pop Warner in a few months. The organization believes safety comes first when it comes to head injuries, but Coach Kenny admits things weren't always that way.

Coach Kenny says, "I remember when I was a kid it was kind of an unspoken thing. You just played and if you got your bell rung, you got your bell rung. You played because the team needed you, and you needed to win. Now if there are any signs we need to take a kid out we do it every time."

New research shows more head injuries actually occur in practice than games and that's why Pop Warner created a Concussion Awareness Initiative. Under the new guidelines if kids practice for 9 hours, they can only use a third of that time in contact with another player. Head to head hits are also banned.

Doctor Dave Olson, a pediatrician at Grand Traverse Children's Clinic is in support of these new rules.

Dr. Olson says, "Concussions in children are more significant than they are in college and adult athletes. They have many more long term affects and we really want to make sure kids are not going back too soon"

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