With concussions making its way to the forefront of football injuries, Pop Warner is taking an aggressive approach to protecting the safety of its players.
The youth football, cheer and dance organization has added stricter rules regarding players with head injuries. Specifically, players who are suspected of sustaining a concussion or head injury in practice must be immediately removed from competition. They won't be allowed to return to activities until they receive written clearance from a doctor.
Pop Warner is following the "when in doubt, sit them out" creed that the NFL and USA Football use. The rule is designed to take the decision-making out of the hands of coaches and into the hands of licensed medical officials.
"It takes all the pressure off a coach," Pop Warner executive director Jon Butler told the Associated Press. "There is no decision -- the child is out until being signed off by a trained medical professional."
In addition to the stricter guidelines in place, Pop Warner is also forming the inaugural Pop Warner Medical Advisory Board. The board is led by four physicians and is in place to ensure Pop Warner remains proactive on all football-related medical issues. This includes concussions, hydration awareness, proper nutrition guidelines and general health and safety issues.
Together, the new rules are in place to ensure that Pop Warner's young athletes--football player, cheerleaders and dance team members--are always healthy when in competition.
"The health and safety of our players has always been Pop Warner's top priority," Butler said. "We felt it was important that Pop Warner update its rule book to reflect the most safety-conscious and comprehensive approach to concussion prevention. Our new Medical Advisory Board will ensure that Pop Warner continues to be acutely aware of, and able to appropriately respond to new health and safety issues and medical information that may have an effect on our participants."