BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT)- The fans screaming, the cheerleaders yelling, the band striking up songs, and the thwack of the pads; they’re all reasons we love high school football. That last sound, however, can be a cause for concern. Concussions are a hot topic today, and the AHSAA wants to be on the forefront of the issue. “We feel like education is the most important tool that we have,” said Steve Savarese, Executive Director of the AHSAA. “We will continue to study this issue. This will be a metamorphosis over time.”
The evolution is taking another step this season, beginning with fall practice. The AHSAA has issued recommended guidelines for schools as they open camp. The governing body suggests spending the first two practice days in shorts and t-shirts. On the third day, they say players can wear pads, but not for more than ninety minutes. Other proposals from the AHSAA:
Week 1 – In accordance with the AHSAA Fall Football Practice Rule (Rule III, Section 18, Page 44 of the 2013-14 Handbook), the first two days of fall football practice should be in shorts and helmets. Shoulder pads and helmets are allowed on the third practice day for a period not to exceed 90 minutes of total practice time.
The AHSAA recommends that shoulder pads and helmets be used on the fourth practice day for a period of time not to exceed 120 minutes (2 hours) of total practice time. On the fifth practice day, one full contact practice, not to exceed 90 minutes of full contact (11-on-11) is recommended.
Week 2 – Alternating days of full contact practice, not to exceed a combined total of 120 minutes of full contact practice (11-on-11) per week. In addition, one intra-squad scrimmage would be allowed in week 2.
Week 3 – Alternating days of full contact practice, not to exceed a combined total of 120 minutes of full contact practice (11-on-11) per week. One interscholastic scrimmage contest would be allowed in week 3.
Week 4 through End of Season – 90 minutes of full contact practice (11-on-11) per week.
According to Savarese, these guidelines were developed in conjunction with medical teams and coaches associations across the state. “Our schools and the football coaches association, parents, everybody I think is looking for guidance, knowing that football is still a contact sport,” said Savarese.
For this year, these guidelines are just that: guidelines. They are not required. For them to become law, all the schools in the organization would have to vote them in with a two-thirds majority in January.