Governor Jerry Brown signed a new bill Monday that places specific practice restrictions for middle and high school football players beginning January 1, 2015.
Assembly Bill 2127 was introduced by Assemblyman Ken Cooley (D) of Rancho Cordova. It prohibits full-contact practice in the off-season, requires at least one week recovery time after a student athlete gets a concussion, and restricts full-contact practices to two 90-minute sessions per week.
The Assemblyman said the bill was inspired by the many reports of concussion problems at the professional level all the way down to the middle school level. He said he consulted with members of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), current and former professional football coaches, and health professionals to write the bill.
“It ensures any parent in California, that if your child wants to be a football player, once you get passed January 1, you know there are guidelines in place with your child’s wellbeing in mind,” Cooley said.
However, some coaches worry that the law may backfire on their athletes, depending on the program.
“I think that limiting 90 minutes twice a week… I think a couple of coaches are going to press through the practice time and go really hard, and that might cause more injuries,” Coach Rick Wanlin of Rosemont High School said. Since he took over the program six years ago, the team has gone to the playoffs five times.
Coach Wanlin said his practice schedule already only consists of two full-contact days. So he will only have to adjust his regimen slightly. However, he said he knows many other successful coaches that do small amounts of full-contact sessions daily.
“ I think good coaches will amp down their practice and take their time, slow tempo, and be more safe that way, rather than trying to jam a hard practice in that time.”
The bill is now being reviewed by CIF and medical experts, who will break down the specifics for coaches to follow.
Other states already have similar laws in place for their student athletes. Texas only allows their football players to have one 90-minute full contact practice per week.