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Exploring the dangers of concussions in youth football

Posted at 7:26 AM, Oct 01, 2019

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — We continue to explore the subject of concussions in football this week. On Monday, a sports medicine doctor said the medical community believes concussions have long term effects on the brain, but it's unclear exactly what the effects are and if multiple concussions makes them worse.

One youth football group in Millard shows us how things are different now.

The league the Millard West youth teams play in has changed to lessen head injuries, but both the players and coaches know it's a violent game where anything can happen.

Brian McDonnell has been coaching youth football for 11 years and played high school and college ball. When he started coaching, they practiced tackling a lot.

"We don't go to the ground all the time anymore, which is what we used to do quite a bit." McDonnell said.

He says they've changed for the better. Coaches are required to go through hours of training before the season. They now focus on fundamentals over physicality. They also two to three times less, something that has carried over on Gameday.

"There's a lot of arm tackling going on today, and it shows. You watch game film, and it certainly shows." McDonnell said.

Across the practice field, one of the eighth grade teams is coached by Robert Glantz. He's had to adjust to the new way of playing.

"It's been somewhat of a challenge for somebody who played football for a long time back in the day, to change that mindset a little bit." Glantz said.

Glantz says when he played, defenders were taught to lead with the head, which is something that will get you a penalty now. Now, they teach kids a rugby style way of tackling.

"It used to be tackle in front of the guy and now it's tackle behind the guy." Eighth Grade players Will Ricketts said.

The Seattle Seahawks employed the same strategy when they won a Super Bowl.

"Basically saying here's an NFL team that won a world championship and they're using these techniques so we can all the way to down to youth football and you can still get the results that you're looking for." Glantz said.

With the game being played safer, the kids on the field say they barely if ever see a concussion, and they certainly don't worry about them.

"Do you worry about getting a concussion ever?" "No." Eighth Grade player Cayson Schlotfeld said.

The two coaches we spoke with agree that with the modern equipment and revamped gameplay, football isn't that dangerous of a sport.

"I think football is much safer than what the media wants to put out there, you get an injury, they're going to blow that injury up tremendously, where as kids are riding skateboards, riding their bike, going to the ER with head injuries or broken bones but that isn't a popular news story." Glantz said.