MUSCATINE, Iowa – Recent reports say 47% of all sports related concussions happens during high school football. But now, a youth football league in Muscatine is lowering the number of concussions by teaching them a safer version of the game.
Bob Ferreira decided to be a referee when reading the Quad City Times back in 1996. And in those 22 years, he has seen it all when it comes to football injuries such as concussions.
“The focus on injuries and head trauma, it’s real real. Kids at the time and even at the oldest, they get protected and they think it can be more of an offensive weapon,” informs Ferreira.
“In the old days it used to be ‘put your head down, put your head down’. Well, those day are long past. Now, you know you do it with your head up.”
To help keep their head up, this youth football league requires players to wear a harness - called a TackleBar - around their waist.
“It’s just a Styrofoam. It replaces your tags from years back that dangle from your hips,” explains Ferreira. “These are actually a Styrofoam that have two clips in there that pull out very easily.”
Once those clips are pulled, it’s considered a tackle.
The game is in between flag football and tackle football. And with no hit to the ground, players are seeing a lot less injuries and concussions.
This new harness keeps parents at ease and provides multiple benefits to players who are still learning the fundamentals of the game.
“He just loves football,” says Matt Hubb, a player's father, “He’s excited to get into tackle, but he’s just learning the fundamentals. I have no concerns.”
But Ferreira believes kids shouldn’t rush into tackle football.
“I think tackling could be taught later in football. The most important thing right now is blocking and positioning,” says Ferreira.
And with over two decades of referee experience, it’s improvements like this that keep Ferreira going.