The National Football Foundation has distributed a safety outline for coaches to discuss with parents.
IRVING, Texas (Aug. 10, 2016) – The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame announced today that it has distributed a set of guidelines, created with feedback from the Texas High School Coaches Association (THSCA) and the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), that will help more than 150,000 high school coaches inform parents about their efforts to make their programs safer than ever. The guidelines have been sent to and utilized by state high school athletic associations, the AFCA membership base of 11,000, the NFF’s 120 nationwide chapters and high school coaches across the country.
“Coaches stand on the frontline of our sport, and nobody cares more about the safety and the long-term development of our nation’s young people,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “For generations, football has provided the ultimate classroom for teaching the lifelong lessons that have molded many of our nation’s greatest leaders. The benefits of playing football are enormous, and we are working hard to address all of the safety concerns that parents may have.”
In preparation for the 2016 high school football season, the NFF developed the guidelines based on input from AFCA Executive Director Todd Berry, NFF Walter J. Zable (San Diego) Chapter President and Associate Athletics Director at the University of San Diego Brian Fogarty, THSCA Executive Director D.W. Rutledge and College Football Hall of Fame coach and Emeritus AFCA Executive Director Grant Teaff. The guidelines are designed to highlight the multiple steps that coaches around the country can take to highlight that safety is their number one priority.
“At AFCA we’re tremendously excited that we’re having conversations at a significant level about player safety,” said Berry. “There is nobody who wants to see their team healthier than their own coach. So, we’re thrilled to be a part of these discussions, and we want to be able to teach the game safely. The steps that we’re currently taking are great for our game and great for our student-athletes, and we’re interested in doing things the right way to make sure that our players are safe.”
In developing the guidelines, the NFF reached out to multiple key influencers nationwide to gather their feedback and assistance in crafting the document, which has been distributed to an estimated 150,000 coaches nationwide as they prepare for the 2016 season.
“I think the guidelines are great,” said Rutledge. “This is something we definitely need to get to our coaches. You know we have hit on something important, and it is a wonderful resource for all our coaches.”
“We’re all concerned about the issues that have been raised about concussions,” said Fogarty. “And what it has done is create an environment within our profession that is making us take a good look at how we’re teaching the game. It’s important to take the head out of tackling, and the discussion has forced us to reevaluate how the game should be played. The guidelines are a great resource for coaches to talk with parents who are concerned about letting their kids play.”
The guidelines are designed to assist high school coaches in organizing their thoughts when talking to parents about a safety-first approach for their program. The guidelines cover head injuries, heat policies, on-site safety personnel plans, emergency management procedures and more. Specifically, they include:
· Emphasize that safety is first and foremost in your program. Their son’s health is your top priority.
· Discuss the training your coaches receive (i.e. ASEP, head coaches certification, Heads Up, Keep the Head Out of Football, etc.)
· Review your pre-season and in-season practice policy (e.g. amount of contact, full pads, etc.)
· Discuss your heat policy relative to all activities.
· Thoroughly review your Concussion Management Policy and protocols (e.g., removed from practice or game, no participation until cleared by Concussion Oversight Team, etc.)
· If applicable, discuss your baseline concussion testing program.
· Discuss your helmet and equipment safety standards and procedures (i.e., quality helmets that are certified every year and fitted by a trained professional.)
· Discuss the critical importance of a quality mouthpiece (invest in a mouthpiece for better protection.)
· Inform them of the safety personnel available at practices and games (physicians, trainers, ambulances, etc.)
· Discuss and review your emergency management plans and protocol concerning major injuries, lightning, etc.
· Emphasize the benefits of playing football (discipline, teamwork, increased focus on academics, etc.)
“We have already received great feedback from across the country, and we are excited about reaching more than 150,000 coaches,” said Hatchell. “We are proud to have played a role in what we believe will make our sport safer, and we grateful to Todd Berry, Brian Fogarty, D.W. Rutledge and Great Teaff for their leadership on the project.”
About The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame
Founded in 1947 with early leadership from General Douglas MacArthur, legendary Army coach Earl "Red" Blaik and immortal journalist Grantland Rice, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame is a non-profit educational organization that runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people. With 120 chapters and 12,000 members nationwide, NFF programs include FootballMatters.org, the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, The William V. Campbell Trophy presented by Fidelity Investments, annual scholarships of more than $1.3 million and a series of initiatives to honor the legends of the past and inspire the leaders of the future. NFF corporate partners include Delta Air Lines, Fidelity Investments, Herff Jones, New York Athletic Club, Pasadena Tournament of Roses, PrimeSport, the Sports Business Journal, Under Armour and VICIS. Learn more at www.footballfoundation.org.