Depew, NY - A new California law limits full contact practices for high school and middle school football players. Those changes could soon be coming to New York.
Before the even season starts, coaches at the All-Star High School Football Classic have safety on the top of their minds.
"With the smaller schools, I think you're going to have guys that are already being precautious because they just don't have the depth, and they can't lose guys in practice," says West Seneca East Coach Jim Maurino.
"USA Football has developed a new way of tackling, and I think that's helped reduce concussions. I think the technology of the helmet is a little better than it was ten years ago, so that's going to reduce concussions. And, I just hope going forward we find more technology to make it even safer," says Williamsville South Coach Kraig Kurzanski.
This month, California's governor signed a bill restricting full contact football practices to two 90-minute sessions a week during the season and preseason. It bans full contact practices during the off-season. While the new law does not go into effect until the first of the year, the hope is that it helps reduce head injuries.
The Williamsville South coach says his team does not do much hitting during the week anymore. He adds that they have really scaled back over the past ten years.
"It makes a lot of sense. If the kids can't play Friday night, then it's silly how you practice, so I think you can simulate situations that make practice viable and good and still get game ready. But I don't think you need to hit every day, no," says Kurzanski.
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association says similar changes to the rules could be on the horizon here as soon as the 2015-2016 season.
"We already have the definition in place, the football committee recognizes that, the safety committee recognizes that, and to tell you the truth, once the regulations are put in, if they are put in, with this upcoming school year, for the 2015-16 football season, it's really not going to be that dramatic of a difference of what football, the majority of football coaches, are already doing," says Todd Nelson with the NYSPHSAA.
Nelson says there will always be a risk of injury, but his goal is to minimize that risk. The coaches agree.
"I think knowledge is power and I think our game is under attack. All sports are for that matter, soccer included. And, if we don't change, we're going to lose the game," says Kurzanski.
The new law in California will apply to all public, private and charter schools.