Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation limiting full-contact football practice for California teenagers, his office announced Monday.
The legislation comes amid increasing concern about brain injuries in football.
Assembly Bill 2127, by Assemblyman Ken Cooley, D-Rancho Cordova, goes into effect Jan. 1, 2015, and prohibits middle school and high school football teams from holding full-contact practices during the offseason and limits them to two full-contact practices per week during the preseason and regular season.
Nineteen other states have banned full-contact high school football practices in the offseason, according to a legislative analysis.
The two head football coaches in Los Banos – Los Banos High’s Dustin Caropreso and Pacheco High’s David Snapp – both said the changes wouldn’t affect their practices during the season, but they might have to switch things up during the preseason.
“In-season, practice wise, this won’t affect us at all,” Snapp said. “We’ve already tempered back our hitting anyway. Monday is install days, Tuesday and Wednesday we hit a little bit, and Thursday is our walk-through.”
Caropreso said he runs a similar schedule, with contact on Tuesday and night practice on Wednesday.
“I think you’re seeing it more and more in every aspect of football,” Caropreso said. “The NFL, with as much attention as they’ve had on concussions, they’re not hitting as much in spring training. College, they’re doing the same thing in their offseason training.”
According to AB 2127:
• The full-contact portion of a practice shall not exceed 90 minutes in any single day.
• A high school or middle school football team shall not hold a full-contact practice during the offseason.
• A team camp session shall be deemed to be a practice.
• “Offseason” means a period extending from the end of the regular season until 30 days before the commencement of the next regular season.
• “Preseason” means a period of 30 days before the commencement of the regular season.
“My biggest thing is, who’s going to monitor it?” Caropreso said. “Great, it’s a good law, but who’s going to monitor it? The coaches? OK. What happens when the first person gets called on it, and what are the repercussions going to be?”
The biggest impact may be on the team camps in the offseason. Snapp and the Panthers have first-hand experience with this when starting running back Kalama Kamoku was lost for the entire 2013 fall after tearing up his knee in an offseason camp.
“It has a little impact, but nothing we can’t overcome,” Snapp said. “I see the reason for it, and after what happened to Kalama last year, I have no problem with no contact.”
But even with the ever-present danger, Snapp said the full-contact camps have been useful.
“It gives our kids the added advantage of hitting a little early and working out some kinks,” he said. “I liked it because you can see what you have and what to work on, you get to see that stuff in live action, things you might need to adjust.”
Caropreso said it might be good to take things a little further and require helmets during seven-on-seven tournaments in the offseason.
“How much head-to-head contact do you have there?” he said. “Probably more than people realize.”