Leagues Take Steps to Preserve the Sport, But at Who’s Cost?

The unfathomable seems suddenly possible.

You don’t have to go very far these days to experience the debate about whether football will survive the concussion crisis and retain its title as America’s real pastime. The noise is bound to only get louder during the dog days of summer when baseball is the only major sport in action.

The headline writers are waiting.

Whether it’s ex-NFL players who say they will not let their son play football, or major college football conferences forming committees to examine the problem, the subtle signs are everywhere. Add Pop Warner to the mix last week with its announcement that certain drills will be outlawed out of concern for repetitive head trauma.

The latest news blip trickled across the wire Wednesday. One of Fort Wayne, Indiana’s youth football programs announced that it is changing its policies in the fall. Specifically, the Metro Youth Football League (MYFL) is adopting rules that prohibit a player who has exhibited concussion symptoms from returning to a game until he has been cleared by a doctor.

MYFL president Jim Winters told the Fort Wayne paper, the News-Sentinel: “Normally, when a child says he has a headache, he has to let his parents take a look at it. But you can’t take a headache lightly any more. We have some parents who will say he’s going to be OK and put him back in. We have to make sure we are here first for the safety of the children.’”

And the MYFL, which has 850 participants from ages 7 through 12, is going to make sure the league has some legal protection going forward. Unfortunately for the coaches and medical professionals, they risk liability in such matters unless they abide by the letter of the policy and act in a conservative manner.

In the grand scheme of things, the leagues are not taking any chances.

The actions of the MYFL and Pop Warner are a positive step as far as preserving the popularity of a sport, which seemed unbeatable just a few years ago.

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