WJTV – No matter which you slice it, football is a violent game. It’s proven to have caused serious head injuries to players at every level. The rising awareness of those injuries is why how players tackle and how much they tackle is being thoroughly re-evaluated.
“At the same time we’ve had meetings within our association that’s dealing with contact and you know, it’s coming down the line,” said Pearl head coach John Perry. “I think what the Ivy League did will be here before you know it.”
And that isn’t to say some of those policies aren’t already here. Both Perry and Brandon head coach Tyler Peterson say football teams are closer to not having tackling in practice than the other way around.
“We’ve probably tackled less the last two years than I ever have just for the simple fact, you try not to get anybody hurt,” said Peterson. “You try to tackle against dummies or not against each other as much as you can.”
“I think if you polled the majority of coaches out there, most of them have probably taken it out with the exception of a couple of days of going live, just because we’re gonna have to change the way we coach or somebody’s gonna change it for ya so you’d rather be proactive than reactive with that.”
Perry says you can see the changes in high school and in college.
“I think if you practice correctly and if you practice full speed and you teach them things that they have started teaching them in the Ivy League, I think you’re ok,” he said. “You go watch a lot of your practices right now, a lot of them are not going full speed tackling all the time. They’re thudding up and they’re touching the hip and they’re running through. They’re doing things right now to get back on full speed contact because if you’re gonna lose someone to contact you’d rather it be on Friday or Saturday than Monday or Tuesday.”
Despite the lack of live tackling, the two coaches say tackling with dummies is just as efficient as full contact with another player.
“Two years ago, we were really thin, really couldn’t afford to have any injuries in practice,” Peterson said. “We didn’t notice any difference in our games on Friday night and we kinda carried over from that.”
Said Perry: “I think guys are healthy and they’re safe and you can learn how to tackle without having to tackle full speed. You know on the flip side, you go to colleges and they’ve got 43 stand up dummies that are $2,500 a piece. The one issue in high school we would run into is not having the resources to tackle without tackling each other.”