Recently all eight Ivy League schools came out declaring that the longstanding habit of holding full-contact practices for their football teams will be drastically cut and eliminated altogether in certain seasons. Following the growing concerns of doctors and medical professionals over the continual rise in number and longevity of concussions and overall damage caused by traumatic brain injury to athletes, the coaches of Columbia, Brown, Dartmouth, Yale, Cornell, Princeton, Pennsylvania, and Harvard are setting a safer standard for their players and for the nation.
While some have voiced opposition to this move, there is significant evidence that the reduction of collision in practices is not detrimental to teams’ productivity, and that this is true even more strongly the more advanced the league or team.“It hasn’t hurt our level of play,” Dartmouth’s coach Buddy Teevens said. “It’s actually made us a better team.” In other words, limiting collision hasn’t proven a barricade for better play in the tops leagues, but what it does mean is that hopefully those participating at lower levels such as high school and youth leagues will be more protected, as “only 3 percent of concussions sustained in the N.F.L. occurred on the practice field”, but “in high school, the rate is 60 to 75 percent.” This decision is highly encouraging as concussion and traumatic brain injury awareness has been all-but non-existent until recently. I only hope that all leagues and levels will follow their example in making a staple American sport safer overall.