On Saturdays, tens of thousands of fans pack college football stadiums throughout the state, eager to watch young men battle it out on the grid-iron.
Getting to the college level requires starting early, running routes, and hitting tackling dummies as early as third grade, but many of the people who love watching the sport aren`t allowing their kids to play it due to the fear of concussions and life-long injuries.
“Because of the scare, youth football is experiencing across the board a drop of about 4-10% in numbers,” said David Murillo, commissioner of the West Des Moines Youth Football League.
In response, Murillo says that more emphasis than ever is being put on safety.
At a coaches clinic in Des Moines Saturday morning, nearly 50 youth football coaches from around the state gathered not to learn not about x’s and o’s, but about yes’s and no’s.
“They’re educating us at the youth level on the proper techniques of the heads up football technique of tackling,” said Rob Drew, a youth football coach from Ballard-Huxley.
“Keeping the head and neck out of the game is critical to maintaining safety when you’re playing football,” said Murillo.
Safety isn’t all about proper tackling.
Coaches are learning more about hydration, proper fitting of pads, and communication.
“No more stick em’, cut em’ out at the knees. We’re taking that out of the game of football because it’s just inflammatory,” Murillo told Channel 13 News.
All of this training is in hopes of making the game more playable for years to come.
If you want more information on youth football safety, visit the link below.