High school just wouldn’t be high school without football.

At least that’s the way many parents and children see it.

Yet in aftermath of the high profile deaths of former pro players such as Junior Seau, concerns are growing over the long-term effects of playing football, putting the spotlight on the potential dangers of head trauma and concussions at the high school level – and beyond.

Even the NFL’s biggest ambassadors have questioned the safety of what many believe is the quintessential American sport. Former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner said the idea of his two sons playing football “scares me.” Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman said if he had a son he wouldn’t discourage him from playing football but neither would he encourage him to do so. And even the father of Tom Brady, said he would be “very hesitant” to let his son play if he had it to do over again.

As a result, the organizers of high school and youth  football are scrambling for solutions. The National Federation of State High School Associations has been working to minimize concussions with rule changes such as outlawing heads slaps, helmet-to-helmet contact and banning use of a helmet to spear another player. In addition, a new NFHS rule will state that it is illegal “for a player whose helmet comes completely off during a down to continue to participate beyond the immediate action in which the player is engaged.”

USA Football is also promoting player safety with “Heads Up Football,” Football Safety Program, a three step program which emphasizes teaching tackling methods designed to limit the amount of head contact.

Despite emerging changes in youth football, “there is no way to totally eliminate concussions,” said Rebecca Brutlag, the media relations officer for the CIF State office in Sacramento. “Two players in soccer, for instance, go up to head a ball and bang heads. One or both could wind up with a concussion.”

The bottom line? Awareness of the symptoms of concussion as well as treatment options is key. For the first time in years, the American Academy of Neurology recently introduced new concussion guidelines. Concussion Guidelines

Even more important is concussion prevention, so it is critical to teach how to coach the game properly.

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