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  • Writer's pictureTerry O'Neil

Legendary Coach Invites PLP

At the invitation of Coach Lou Marinelli, PLP founder Terry O'Neil presented August 20 to the New Canaan (CT) High School squad, one of the favorites this season to win Connecticut's highest classification, Class LL.  The New Canaan program is a model of progressive thinking -- the first high school to play its spring game in thud format rather than tackling to the ground.

In introducing O'Neil, Marinelli told his players, "Practice Like Pros is saving the game of football."

O'Neil returned the compliment, saying, "You're lucky to have this coach.  He's won 340-plus games and 12 state championships, but he's still looking for ways to improve.  He called me a few months ago and said, 'If Dartmouth can play their spring game in thud, and Ohio State can play their spring game in thud, and Rutgers can play their spring game in thud, is there any reason we can't play our spring game in thud?'"

The 90 players responded with a rousing ovation for their coach.

Answer Same to All Three Questions

Three important issues surfaced last week, all of them pointing in the same direction:

Issue #1:  In a video posted by USA Today, Dr. Ann McKee, Director of Boston University's CTE Center, said:  "It's estimated that the average football player gets between 100 and 1000 hits per season.  If you play for 10 years, you can imagine that's 10,000 hits.  That's what we're trying to get more awareness about.  We need to limit the amount of contact in football."

Solution:  Less contact in practice.

Issue #2:  Dr. Robert C. Cantu, Co-Founder of Boston University's CTE Center and supporter of Practice Like Pros since its inception, was quoted in the Detroit News: 

"All our work at BU has suggested that it is total brain trauma, and that includes sub-concussive blows as well as concussive blows.
"About 20 per cent of our CTE pathologically diagnosed cases have no history of concussion," said Cantu, a world-renowned expert on concussion.
"There are in the last seven or eight years a number of studies that have followed athletes over the course of a season, especially in football and soccer, and with no recognized concussions they have been able to show structural, metabolic and functional changes in the brain just from the repetitive head trauma."

Solution:  Less contact in practice.

Issue #3:  The National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) released Friday its annual participation statistics for the 2017 season.  High school football participation declined 2%from the prior year.  This follows a 2.5% drop from 2015 to 2016.  In the past two seasons, the decline in high school football participation has been nearly 50,000 players.

Here's the change in football participation from 2016 to 2017 for selected states:

California lost 2793 players Connecticut lost 377 players Florida lost 1663 players Georgia lost 731 players Illinois lost 2571 players Massachusetts gained 13 players Michigan lost 985 players Mississippi lost 90 players New Jersey lost 1696 players

New York lost 1260 players North Carolina lost 535 players Ohio gained 147 players Oklahoma lost 1636 players Pennsylvania lost 135 players South Carolina lost 439 players Tennessee lost 568 players Texas gained 742 players Wisconsin lost 980 players

Solution:  State-by-state reductions in practice contact, proposed by coaches, approved by governing bodies, as a tangible demonstration to all stakeholders that the game is changing.

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