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.
Golden Valley coach Dennis Stubbs said the legislation won’t effect his practice plans.
“We hardly do any full contact,” Stubbs said. “On Tuesdays, we’ll go about 10 plays, and on Wednesday nights, we’ll do the same thing. We’ll go against a scout (offense) and scout (defense). I’m not a big full-contact guy in practice.”
According to the bill, a “full-contact practice” means drills or live action is conducted involving collisions at game speed, where players execute tackles and other activity that is typical of an actual game.
Stubbs said even when his team goes full contact, it’s with a quick whistle.
“We’ve actually backed off full contact because we want to save it for the game,” Stubbs said. “We want to avoid injuries and hopefully be at full strength on Fridays.”
The legislation won’t effect most teams during the season.
“Our two biggest days of contact are Tuesday and Wednesday,” Buhach Colony coach Kevin Navarra said. “Our guys are in full pads on Monday, but we have limited contact. The reason we’ve gone away from half suit is we don’t have to take a helmet off the knee. It’s basically to protect our kids.
“I don’t think it will have a huge impact on us, but as a coach you don’t want to have what your team needs to get ready for a season or a game dictated to you. But if a law passes that encourages more parents to let their kids play football, I’m all for it.”
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.
“The bottom line of the law is teams need to take precaution with their players,” Merced coach Rob Scheidt said. “When the law comes down, who is enforcing it? Hopefully, coaches are enforcing it. That’s a whole other area. I think athletic departments, school administrators and coaches need to get together to determine how they are to enforce this law in their programs. They need to define the law to have a better understanding of how to follow the law. What is game speed?”
The biggest impact may be on the team camps in the offseason.
“I feel really good about the Cal camp we attended,” Scheidt said. “It was very controlled. All the teams that participated did a good job. It was very beneficial. We went to a camp the year before that I felt there was too much contact. I wouldn’t go back for that reason.”