Concussions are an issue that has dominated a lot of talk surrounding football in the past few years, and with good reason.
“With the things that are going on out there in court, you're looking at all the mama and daddy's out there talking about concussion with their child and saying, ‘You know, I don't want them to play football, I'm afraid he's going to get hurt,’” explained University of Tulsa Head Football Coach Philip Montgomery.
Football is now tackling the court system. Terry O'Neil, the founder of Practice like the Pros, cites a court case from Illinois earlier this year that could extend here.
"He's going to find a player in Oklahoma, who has some sort of cognitive impairment. He's going to blame all of it on high school football and he's going to sue the OSSAA," says O'Neil.
O'Neil is referring to multiple former high school football players in Illinois filing suit against the Illinois High School Association claiming the IHSA hasn't done enough to prevent concussions.
The Association has asked to dismiss the suit, but it begs the question, “Can associations do enough to prevent a game played on the field?”
At the Oklahoma Coaches Association Clinic this week, O'Neil presents better methods like players playing flag football until ninth grade and Seattle Seahawks rugby style techniques as prevention.
"We have to change the way we coach the game, or we won't have a game to coach,” he stated. “They're risking tremendously, not just with concussions, but the subconcussive blows that steady rat-a-tat-tat [and] there's no football reason for it."
Local coaches are taking these lessons seriously.
"Coaches in Oklahoma are in a position that they've learned. They're doing the efficient thing; they're doing the safe things. Our deal is work smart, not hard,” elaborated Edison Assistant Coach and President of the Oklahoma Coaches Association Bob Craig. “We don't have to be out there 2 ½ -3 hours. We can get things done a lot more efficiently because of the way the kids are taught, the way they're conditioned, the way they're prepared year round in a lot of cases."
They hope these efforts will help them grow the game in a safer manner.
"Making sure that we teach the right things, the right techniques to keep kids safe [and] to let them enjoy this wonderful game that we got [is important]," said Montgomery.