SALADO - A new study shows almost 90 percent of former football players show signs of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).
The degenerative brain disease has been a hot-button issue for years.
While helmets are largely associated with head injuries, one high school football coach in our area said there is another one he thinks is equally important in minimizing concussions.
Head injuries have been a part of football almost as long as contact has.
“When I played, you got your helmet in August and it probably didn’t get checked again until November,” Alan Haire, Salado High School Football Coach said.
Today, more kids are playing football nationwide and more attention is on head injuries.
A new study released Tuesday looked at the brains of 202 former football players from all levels.
Eighty-seven percent of brains were diagnosed with CTE.
“As a parent, I have a son who plays football,” Salado parent Jason Torczynski said. “I played football, you kind of want to know what did this study find and what is it saying?”
The risk has always been there. Torcznski just has a simple request from his son’s coach.
“Ways to continue improving technique to protect players on the field and then continuing to improve the materials they use, the helmets, equipment,” Torcznski said.
Haire said between 85 and 88 percent of NFL players wear Ridell helmets so his players wear them as well.
“They’re supposed to be certified for 10 years but none of our players will wear one for more than four years at the varsity level,” Haire said.
Entering his second season as football coach at Salado High School, Haire said he has helmet coordinators assigned to each team who inspect the helmets after every game.
While they make sure each one is intact, they also make sure the inflatable liners inside are properly inflated.
It is not the only piece of equipment Haire emphasizes either. He said the mouthpiece can help prevent concussions as well.
But technique is a key as well, especially tackling form.
Jimmy McBee, Lone Stare Youth Football Commissioner said they require their coaches to be USA Football Heads-up certified.
“That’s an annual thing, they do it every year,” McBee said.
Training which never stops as high school coaches are always going to classes as well.
Haire said more schools are going to a helmet monitor to make sure they are ready to go each week.
He also said Salado recertifies its helmets with Ridell every year, an approach becoming more universal in football.
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