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AIA passes limitations on football contact

Posted by on April 19, 2013 – 2:33 pm

One of the relatively bigger nuggets of news to come from the monthly AIA Executive Board meeting earlier this week was a bylaw limiting the amount of “contact” during football practices.

No more than half of preseason practices can involve “padded athletes in contact with each other” during the preseason (July and most of August), and one-third of practices during the season.

The idea, of course, is to continue putting the clamps on head and trauma injuries, undoubtedly one of the hottest topics in Arizona high school sports and nationwide.

It’s a rule worth putting into print and an obviously worthwhile step toward reducing concussions and other miseries, but will it stick?

A governing body can’t monitor every day’s worth of 270 schools’ football practices, so the onus is on the coaches and athletic director’s to “self-monitor” — kind of like every other facet in Arizona high school athletics, for better or worse — and an A.D. isn’t likely to be able to watch practice everyday either.

So what happens when a player or team does a drill poorly or lazily?  Or has a bad Friday night? Or has a particularly physical opponent(s) upcoming?

Will a coach use a stopwatch or calendar to make sure no thresholds of time are crossed?  Will they try and get away with a couple extra padded sessions?

It’s fair to wonder if this will make a difference or simply be a public relations manuever, but, similar to the physicality which often blossoms during passing leagues, the reality here is there’s not much the AIA can do in “policing” the rule. The rest is up to schools in both teaching tackling and coaches’ self-discipline, even during/after a team’s disappointing exhibition.

In doses, contact is an important part of drills and practice to acclimate kids to games. This is football.

Once again, schools will determine its effectiveness, and it’ll lead to a tricky line in the sand during  days when coaches are enraged at their kids’ performance, and looking for a form of “discipline” or “punishment”.

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