The Ivy League, which really is an athletic conference, will now limit full-contact football practices. According to an article by Ken Belson in the New York Times:
The Ivy League will announce on Wednesday that, in an effort to minimize head injuries among its football players, it will sharply reduce the number of allowable full-contact practices teams can hold.
According to the new rules, teams will be able to hold only two full-contact practices per week during the season, compared with a maximum of five under N.C.A.A. guidelines. On the other days of the week, practices cannot include contact or live tackles, and no player may be “taken to the ground.” Over all, the number of practices with any kind of contact will be reduced 42 percent compared to N.C.A.A. limits.
This comes after several years of medical research have indicated that many football players tend to suffer from severe brain injuries over time.
“If we want young people to continue to fall in love with this great sport, we have to protect the athletes,” said Harvard football coach Tim Murphy.
Well I guess, though it probably won’t do much for the success of the football teams or developing the skills that matter in a sport like this. The violence is a crucial structural component of the sport. If that results in brain injuries, making the practices vaguely less aggressive probably won’t help.
Cornelius Bennett, a former linebacker for the Buffalo Bills, explained the problem to Elizabeth Lopatto at Bloomberg News recently: “You don’t play football without getting a concussion.” There’s no way to seriously avoid injury playing football over a significant period of time.