The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Local News

September 13, 2013

NFL-backed group wants safety training for all youth football coaches

(Continued)

INDIANAPOLIS —

Holdman said the legislation is needed because of the "insidious nature" of concussions and the long-term impact for young athletes who suffer head injuries. He acknowledged that Republican Gov. Mike Pence has called for a moratorium on more regulations.

"I have the same concerns about over-regulating. But when it comes to issues that have to do with children and young folks, I believe those young folks are exempt from that moratorium," Holdman said.

"We've got to do things that take care of those young kids."

USA Football's executive director Scott Hallenbeck, who testified at the hearing, said his organization can provide the online training at a cost of $5 for youth league coaches and $25 for school coaches. The training, called "Heads Up," focuses on preventing brain injuries by teaching coaches how to instruct their players to safely tackle an opponent. It also includes training in how to prevent heat strokes, one of the leading causes of death for young athletes.

Hallenbeck said more than 2,800 coaches have already been trained in the program.

"We're talking about a complex game to teach," Hallenbeck said. "With due respect to these volunteers, we know their hearts are in the right place. We know they are committed to this game. We just want to make sure when we're talking about coaching football, America's favorite sport, that they are doing it in the right way."

Hallenbeck said Heads Up training was developed, in part, in response to the declining number of children who were playing tackle football. His organization estimates youth participation dropped last year to about 2.82 million players from 3 million in 2011.

Also speaking in favor the proposed bill was Michael Duerson of Muncie, whose brother, former NFL player Dave Duerson, committed suicide in 2011. Michael Duerson said his brother suffered from a severe brain injury related to multiple concussions he had sustained during his playing years.

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