The Fresno Bee reported earlier this week that the Fresno Unified School District has adopted a policy to prohibit full contact in the offseason. Contact will be permitted from August, when practice begins, through the final game of the season.
Bullard High School football coach Donnie Arax told the paper: “It’s tough for me to make this concession because I’m a dinosaur, we hit more than any team in the area and I’m going to miss it. But I think it’s a smart move because this concussion issue isn’t going away. This is a great sport and we’ve got to establish measures to keep it so we don’t start losing kids. Parents in suburban schools are not going to let their kids play football if we don’t make changes.”
The Fresno Unified School District is reportedly following the lead of the Kern County School District, which has had the policy in place for several years.
Bullard athletic director Doug Finks said “the repetitive pounding of helmet to helmet doesn’t make sense. We’re not going to eliminate concussions from football, but we really can control the repetitive pounding that makes those kids punch drunk. We’re ahead of the game. It’s not good for kids to hit year-round; it’s unsafe for them. This is a really good idea and I think it’s going to gain traction statewide, to be honest.”
Other school districts are “debating” a similar policy, including the Clovis Unified School District.
“We always get three or four guys hurt in camps, so this is exactly what my staff is debating,” said Clovis West coach Mike Parsons. “Do we want full-contact camps or go to 7-on-7 passing leagues and weight room only to stay healthy and fresh?”