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Participation drops as football gets safer

Posted: Tuesday, Jul 8th, 2014

ATASCADERO — The Atascadero Youth Fooball League continues to make changes to improve the safety of the game along the guidelines of a national movement called Heads Up Football, led by USA Football.

AYFL boardmember Erick Rodriguez, the player and coach representative, has worked the last couple years with USA Football to learn the techniques necessary to improve the safety of the game at the youth level and teach the coaches on the Central Coast.

“I went back up to Raiders’ training camp,” Rodriguez said. “It went over hydration and concussion information. They are doing clinics for safety.”

The coaching changes occuring at AYFL include an improved coach selection process in which coaches are selected by vote with the intent of appointing coaches to teams that share the values of Heads Up Football, and those of the AYFL board.

One of the dilemmas facing the football programs of Atascadero, and youth football nationwide, is a lack of participation.

Participation in youth football declined 9.5 percent between 2010 and 2012, according to Pop Warner statistics. The majority of the blame for the decline is information, and misinformation, regarding concussions and the safety of the sport.

In recent years, national attention has been given to the symptoms and long-term impact of football-related concussions. As a result, 40 percent of Americans say they would encorage their children to play a different sport than football due to concerns about concussions, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll.

For the complete article see the 07-09-2014 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 07-09-2014 paper.

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