New focus on brain injuries in youngest athletes

 
The decision by Pop Warner football this week to impose new limits on full-speed blocking and contact at practices underscores how concern over long-term effects of concussions has now reached the sport’s youngest players.
It was the latest sign of the shifting culture for a sport akin to a national religion, coming after thousands of lawsuits by retired National Football League players, practice changes at Ivy League colleges, and the adoption of new laws in New Jersey and other states intended to protect high-school athletes from concussion-related brain injuries.
The policy change by Pop Warner, with more than 250,000 participants ages 5 to 14 nationwide, expanded the focus to youth leagues, where players are generally younger, coaches are volunteers, and teams practice and play without the benefit of certified athletic trainers or physicians on the sidelines.
 
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