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Monday, June 17
The Indiana Daily Student


Proposed bill requires football coaches train for concussions

Football coaches working with children ages 6-14 in Indiana might soon need new education and certificates if a proposed bill passes when the General Assembly’s next session begins in January.

Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, is sponsoring the bill that would require all youth football coaches using public fields to have additional training in relation to head injuries and concussions.

Using the “Heads Up Football” online coaching class through USA Football, the United States governing body for the sport at youth and amateur levels, coaches would focus on proper tackling techniques, recognition of concussions, proper response to concussions and proper equipment fitting.

During a statehouse news conference, Holdman said he’s optimistic his colleagues will approve the legislation.

“When legislators have an opportunity to really look at this, what the issues are, what it can do for player safety and our youth, we think there won’t be any question they’ll endorse it,” he said.

Concussions and brain injuries related to playing football are increasing in national concern. Just last month, the NFL reached a $756 million settlement with more than 4,500 former players who proved they developed dementia or other concussion-related health issues from injuries sustained on the field.

“‘Heads Up Football” is a comprehensive approach to teaching a better and safer way to play football,” Steve Alic, USA Football communications director, said.

Alic said it will launch on the youth level at the beginning of 2013, Alic said 2,800 leagues in all 50 states have voluntarily adopted the program. That accounts for 25 percent of the country’s entire football community, he said.

Currently, 34 high schools across 10 states are participating in a pilot program, which will be available to all high schools in 2014.

What is important about “Heads Up Football” and Holdman’s bill is it establishes high national standards and a standard of behavior in football programs, Alic said. It puts child safety first.

“We are unaware of any legislation of this kind,” Alic said. “Indiana would be leading the cause for a safer football environment.”

Endorsed by the NFL and many college-level programs, including the Big Ten, the standards set for “Heads Up Football” were influenced by both medical and football experts.

Richard Dullaghan, a football coach with 47 years of experience, was one of many who spoke before the Indiana General Assembly’s Commission on Education Sept. 13 to give insight from current football programs.

“We can teach the game better,” Dullaghan said. “We are teaching the game better. USA Football has the secret, and it is good, and it is something that is only going to get better.”

Follow reporter Jake Wright on Twitter @fljwright.

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