MADISON (WKOW)-- Tens of thousands of fans and hundreds of players filled high school football stadiums around Wisconsin Friday night. With all that excitement comes concern about head injuries after lawmakers passed a concussion bill last session that made stricter guidelines for Wisconsin high schools.
The new effort to crack down on concussions started when the NFL started to see problems with a number of their players long-term health. Since then concussion prevention efforts have trickled down into college and high school programs.
"It's not going for the big hit. They're used to seeing that in the NFL where kids just lowered their shoulder and never wrap up and they see kids spin off. That's asking for someone to get hurt," Sun Prairie football coach Brian Kaminski says.
Since this new focus on concussions started every state in the U.S except for Mississippi has passed some sort of concussion bill into law. Here in Wisconsin the new law says players must be formally checked out by a medical professional before they can play again after a concussion.
"We're really spending a lot of time educating the athletes on what their symptoms are. The things that they will feel. When we educate the athletes they take care of each other," Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Deputy Director Wade Labecki says.
Coaches say the biggest deterrent for concussions is teaching their players how to tackle correctly during practice, so when it comes to game time they know how to protect themselves when concussions are more likely to happen. A new study shows that concussions are almost 10 times more likely to happen during a game than they are at practice.
"We always constantly stress keeping our head up when we're blocking and tackling. We've even gone ahead and maybe don't use shoulder pads as much as other programs do throughout the state. We try to limit our contact to when we think we need it," Kaminski says.
WIAA is also working with referees to crack down on dangerous plays this season. They've advise all of their referees to start calling more penalties for leading with the head and helmet to helmet contact.
"I think it just comes to the mindset of we're going to do everything possible to make sure these kids are safe," Kaminski says.
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