Why California banned full-contact football practices

A new California law bans full-contact football practices for middle and high school students due to concerns over possible concussions. In Los Angeles, a high school now has mandatory baseline testing for concussions for all students.

By , Associated Press

Gov. Jerry Brown announced Monday that he has signed a bill limiting full-contact football practices at middle and high schools in response to concerns about concussions, even as many teams already comply with the rules.

Brown approved the bill, AB 2127, with the support of medical groups and the California Interscholastic Federation, which oversees California high school athletics.

Assemblyman Ken Cooley, D-Rancho Cordova, said his bill is motivated by parents worried about the risks associated with concussions, which include long-term brain damage and early onset dementia.

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Under the legislation taking effect in 2015, drills involving game-speed tackling are prohibited in the offseason. They are limited to 90-minute sessions twice a week the rest of the year. The rules apply to public, private and charter schools.

"There's really not a big uproar about this because it really is nothing new for our coaches," said Brian Seymour, a senior director with the California Interscholastic Federation.

His organization has also addressed concussion risks by limiting total practice time to 18 hours per week. At the college level, the Ivy League and Pac-12 Conference have reduced full-contact practice to cut down on head injuries.

Some lawmakers questioned whether the issue merits state regulation and whether the proposal puts students at a competitive disadvantage when competing against students in other states.

Cooley notes that Texas, the setting of the "Friday Night Lights" book and TV series, has even stricter rules by allowing only one 90-minute full-contact session a week.

A boys Catholic high school in Los Angeles will require all students to undergo baseline testing for concussions — whether they are athletes or not.

The Los Angeles Times reports that ach of Loyola High's 1,270 students will undergo the 45-minute exam assessing balance and brain functions.

More than 500 students have already completed the test administered by the athletic training staff.

Principal Frank Kozakowski says non-athletes are being given the exam because the school has experienced increased numbers of students being diagnosed with concussions from outside activities such as skateboarding and snowboarding.

He says having data from a baseline test will help doctors, teachers and parents.

Officials say they don't know of any other school where the entire student body has undergone baseline testing.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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