High School Athletics Helmet Proposal Stirs Debate

Mar 12, 2012

RENTON -- A proposal to reduce concussions in high school football is creating a lively debate among some of the state’s high school coaches. Monday, that proposal will be a big focus at a meeting of the Washington Interscholastic Athletics Association in Renton. Ruby de Luna has details on the plan, known as Amendment 6.

Amendment 6 would restrict the use of football helmets and shoulder pads during certain practices. Basically, high school football players would only wear them during the regular season and summer all-state games. When kids practice during off season months, they wouldn’t be wearing football gear.

The proposal comes from Robert Polk, athletic director for the Everett School District. He admits his idea is pretty drastic, and it’s not popular with many coaches. But he says it’s hard to ignore studies that show the number of hits over a high school athlete’s career can be harmful to their brain…

Polk: “When you see those types of studies and there’s a risk that this impact could have a negative consequence on a child’s future, it’s imperative upon us to respond in some way, and find ways to try to minimize that risk.”

Some coaches say the proposal could actually put more players at risk. Dan teeter is head football coach at Lakewood High School in Marysville. He says right now players wear helmets for practice, for things like passing drills…

Teeter: “It’s not a contact, it’s a one hand touch, kind of like basketball on grass. But if they ban the use of helmets, we would have kids running into each other, potentially having more concussions, and facial injuries.”

Teeter says he supports the intent behind the amendment, but thinks it’s too restrictive. He’s started a petition, and is talking to other coaches to come up with an alternative.

Robert Polk of the Everett School District says there are fewer collisions when kids practice without their gear, because they’re more careful. Polk thinks the odds of his proposal passing are slim. But he’s got the coaches and administrators talking. And he hopes that discussion will lead to new ideas for preventing head injuries in high school sports.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network