Calif. law bans full-contact football practices in off season - 7News Boston WHDH-TV

Calif. law bans full-contact football practices in off season

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FRESNO, Calif. (WHDH) - Helmet cracking and pad crunching will continue on game day, but big changes are in store for California football players when it comes to practices.

A new state law bans full-contact practices in the off season at public middle schools and high schools.

During the season, teams are limited to 90 minutes, two days per week.

"I don't know if that's better for a kid to have 90 minutes of continuous hitting a day as opposed to space out over three days," said Steve Nelson, a football coach at Fresno's Hoover High School.

"The spirit of the rule is to keep kids safe and eliminate contact and I think the flip side of that argument is you know people could say, 'well yeah, but you're not giving them enough contact to prepare for the contact they're gonna have in the game,'" Nelson said.

"I think it's putting my son in jeopardy," said Ron McConnell, whose son plays on Hoover's offensive and Defensive lines. McConnell said he did not support the new rules and argued that full contact and good health can coexist.

"If you're hydrating the kid and their nutrition is the way it's supposed to be then that's gonna help medicate the brain trauma just as much as reducing the hits," McConnell said.

Concussions have been a controversial topic for professional players. Right now, there's a tentative settlement where the NFL would pay $765 million to compensate retired players who have developed neurological problems.

"It's a serious disease that has permanent consequences," said Terry Hutchinson, a neurology professor.

He said traumatic brain injury is a progressive disease.

"Once you have an injury it starts a chain that may take years to finish developing, but ends up with dementia, like Alzheimer's kind of dementia," he said.
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