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Youth Football: Concussion Concerns Push Participation Down

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(credit: CBS) John Lauritsen
John Lauritsen is a reporter from Montevideo, Minn. He joined WCCO-...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The number of concussions in youth football has been declining in recent years; concussion concerns are a big part of that.

In fact, some youth football associations in the Twin Cities report as much as a 20 percent decline in the dangerous brain injures, compared to just one year ago.

Scott Redd once played for the University of Minnesota, but now his team is a group of sixth graders. His two sons also play in the association.

“They are watching the football game,” he said. “They are watching the Gophers and the Vikings. They just get excited about football, so they have been playing football pretty much their whole life.”

But like other coaches in other associations, he’s seen a decline in numbers.

Last year, Redd coached about 20 kids on his team. This year, that number is down to 14, and he says concerns over head injuries are the reasons why.

“It’s a scary thing when you see a sixth-grade kid who doesn’t know what day it is, doesn’t know what time it is, or where he’s at,” Redd said. “It’s scary.”

Blaine/Spring Lake Park youth football requires coaches to get their concussion certification online through USA football before the season starts.

According to the director, they also provide equipment and children are fitted by coaches during equipment hand-out. Minnesota state law requires that coaches and officials receive concussion training.

But Redd’s not sure if that’s the entire solution. He would like to see outside experts come out and, if need be, personally fit all 900 kids in the program.

“What I would like to see is that we use some of the money that we charge, that parents are paying the league,” Redd said. “We use some of that money to bring in some experts and say, ‘Let’s fit these kids properly. Let’s make sure these helmets fit. Let’s make sure these pads fit correctly so these kids can be safe.'”

Redd added that he would like to see money spent on more tackling dummies so can kids learn proper technique before they tackle each other.

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