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Earlier this year, the UIL made some changes regarding football for Texas schools. These rules are designed for several reasons, including player health and safety. With so many new studies coming out about football players and concussions, it’s important to ensure the safety of the students.
“I’m glad [the UIL] is looking out for their safety,” says North Lamar Coach Tommy Felty. “That’s the first and most important thing – the safety of the kids.”
The UIL seems to be getting on board with the rest of the game of football. Recent years have seen changes in how the NFL and NCAA treats concussions in regards to players and their involvement with the game. If a player seems to have suffered concussion-like symptoms during the game, they must pass a series of test before they are allowed to return to action.
“It always happens where people have concussions,” Felty said, “but back in the day people didn’t realize the impact or the seriousness of what a true concussion can cause. I think [the rule changes] is good. We’re here not to hurt kids, but to let them have a good experience and a positive outcome.”
One of the changes Coach Felty referred to was the ruling that teams are now limited to 90 minutes of contact per student per week during practices. This is one of the rules that is designed to help eliminate potential injuries of a player. Felty and his coaching staff don’t have to worry about adapting this new change, however. This is something that was eliminated several years ago by Felty.
When asked about it, he said they found that heavy hitting would sometimes defeat the purpose of what they were trying to accomplish.
“You can lose kids in workouts,” he says. “You’ve got a big game coming up and you get a kid that gets his shoulder tweaked or gets a slight concussion or things like that. It kind of defeats your purpose of what you’re trying to accomplish throughout the week.”
Felty says that sometimes they’ll do a live drill for a few minutes and they may do some individual tackling drills but never do they encourage full tackling during practice.
Another rule change instituted by the UIL was disallowing consecutive two-a-day practices. Another rule change designed to protect the kids as they try to dictate how much time, or rather how little, a student spends in the summer heat. Again, this is a rule change Felty doesn’t have to try and adapt as he had eliminated these workouts several years ago.
“Main reason [we stopped two-a-days] is a district like this kids live so far out,” Felty said. “It’s a great burden on the parents to get the kids here twice a day. Plus the cost of gas when you have kids living 20-25 miles from the school. It’s a burden on them to keep gas in the car.”
Felty pondered the real reason why schools used to go twice a day for practices and eluded to conditioning as a possibility or perhaps some sort of initiation to start playing football. His approach also helps his players get ready for the workout, knowing they only have to come in once allows them to get a really good, hard workout in during that one session. So far, Felty said this has worked for his team.
The last rule change is the allowance of four teams from each district to make the playoffs rather than three like previous seasons.
“When they divide districts up, sometimes you have great districts that are strong,” he said. “All six, seven or however many teams could be a state contender. For those type districts, it was limiting some great teams from getting an opportunity to get out and play.”
Felty is excited about the potential for tough districts to be able to send more teams to the playoffs; however, he is aware and was quick to point out it could water down the playoffs with some of the not-so-tough districts.
Felty and his staff aren’t hoping to just squeeze into the playoffs with the fourth spot. They have their goal set high and that is simply to win District 13-3A.
Follow all of North Lamar football this season on Twitter: @eparisextra
By Greg Higgins, eParisExtra