Last week, there was a voting regarding the banning of tackles during practices from the eight head football coaches in the Ivy League. The recently voted rule from the League, which was unanimously in favor of removing full contact hitting, is sure to receive critics from fans and players. The rule is likely to be approved by the athletic directors, policy committees and university presidents in upcoming days.

Over the past decade, there have been a variety of movements with the goal of making football safer for players. An extraordinary step taken by football coaches, eliminating full contact hitting from practices during regular seasons is a leap forward to a more secure sport. It’s worth mentioning that league member Dartmouth College already eliminated tackling during practices six years ago.

Photo: Ivy League Sports/Harvard Athletic Communications
Photo: Ivy League Sports/Harvard Athletic Communications

And five years ago Dartmouth also reduced the amount of practices involving full-contact activities the team could withstand. As a result, it shouldn’t be a problem for the Ivy League to eliminate the practices that involve full contact hitting. The Dartmouth College football practices now use a robotic dummy for tackling and hitting, instead of tackling each other.

The robotic dummy, weights around 150 pounds and its 5-foot-10-inch body can take tackles all day without risk for football players. The dummy was developed at the college’s Thayer School of Engineering and it debuted in August 2015 in front of players during the preseason. Thanks to the new Dartmouth’s development or Mobile Virtual Player, the rates for injury and concussion from playing football have dropped significantly.

A safer pathway for sports

 The proposed measure from the eight head football coaches would help make the sport safer by reducing the possibilities of concussions for football players. Most concussions in college sports occur during practices rather than during games, said the Institute of Medicine in a report released on 2015. There were 262 concussions cases recorded by the National Collegiate Athletic Association involved in the study. A stunningly high number of 57 percent was accounted for concussions happening during football practices instead of homecoming games.

By following Dartmouth’s example to find a solution for players to be able to keep practicing without harming themselves, the Ivy League could improve its performance. Dartmouth players showed to be in optimal conditions as the grind of the season progressed. The Big Green football players appeared to be fresher and healthier in comparison to their rivals. And their performance wasn’t impaired by the lack of tackling human bodies as they went to share the Ivy League crown with Harvard and Penn.

New approaches towards football’s practice methods

An advocate for the group Practice Like Pros which promotes less contact in practices, Mr. O’Neil said that groups like the Ivy League “have been forced to improvise and innovate without full contact to the point where they are so comfortable with it, they voted to eliminate full contact completely.”

As the Ivy League is taking a rather measured approach on making the sports involving full contact hitting safer, it’s certainly something that the NFL could adopt in the near future. It’s worth mentioning the exhaustive job that Commissioner Roger Goodall and the NFL Players Association have done to prevent head injuries in the league despite criticism from fans and players.

Source: The New York Times