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  • 06 Mar 2019 6:47 PM | William Lee (Administrator)

    Prep Select, a new era platform of USA Select National Youth Football League Inc. is hiring former MS/HS coaches for its 2019 Fall Season in the San Antonio area.

    Prep Select will be a 12U division, age as of date is September 1st of current year. Prep Select is looking to fill 8 head coaching positions and 16 assistant coaching positions. These are salaried positions.

    Coaches must be retired or inactive MS/HS coaches, members of THSCA, have degree, continue education courses (i.e. Glazier Clinics), USA Football Certification, F.A.S.T. certification, and background check.  Must have passion to coach football.

    Interested persons should email info@usaselect.org   Applicants should include a resume.

  • 16 Mar 2018 1:35 PM | William Lee (Administrator)

    So called "All-American" games have popped up all over the United States.  Are the players really a "selected" All-American based on game play?

    For the most part, 99% of all the youth "All-American" games out there are basically "money grabs".

    Parents want so bad for their child to get "exposure", that they pay  fees of $350 - $500 and up per player to take part in what is labeled as "All-American" player status.  I have seen players from the same team and age group play in the so called youth "All-American" games.  Really? How does one team have 6 players make the selection? Keep reading.

    The truth is, your dollars are your vote. Sure they ask for the nomination and a few accolades, but its your "check" that gets the player selected.  Mention any of the other "All-American" games that your child has played in and he is a definite pick to make the team. Past participation in any "All-American" game that charges a fee, and they know they have you bagged.

    The fee is just the small part of the other expenses, such as airfare, room, meals, and transportation. Not to mention all the t-shirts, hoodies and such that they want you to purchase. If you don't stay at the hotel they have designated, you pay an additional $100. (they get a rebate for each night you stay at the host hotel)

    Sure the players get a few items, jersey, pants, socks, backpack, etc., but you are paying for all of it. Most of these items are purchased from Pakistan. Total cost of goods is about $40.  Some even give helmets, but you are paying for it in higher fees.

    Most of these games are just a "business" for some individual.

    Be it a team, an organization, a league, or "All-American" game look for for a few of these signs.  No website, run away; email address with gmail, yahoo, etc., run away; no contact information, phone, address, name of person, run away; no insurance, run away; only accept cash, run away; not filed as a profit or non-profit business with your State, run away. If the nomination is done strictly by email submission, forget about it.

    If any tell you that you will get "exposure", they really mean you will be "exploited".  Most will tell you that you need to play in their next "All-American" game which is only weeks away. You got suckered once, no problem suckering you twice.

    Playing time, well toss that out. The coaches will play the better players because they want a win, although they are suppose to give all players playing time. Kind of hard when you have 40 players and 4  are quarterbacks.

    Bottom line, if it is not free, or under $75, just stay away. And make sure they have a true selection board to review nominations and game video.

  • 06 Jul 2017 11:56 AM | William Lee (Administrator)

    College Coaches attending Combines is a myth.

    As of late, youth football camps and combines have popped up everywhere. It seems that anybody with a whistle and a tire are hosting some type of camp or combine.

    Its great for individual teams and organizations to do so with their registered players, or even bigger combines open to all ages and areas. But don't be fooled by those who are just trying to get into your wallet.

    Beware, college coaches may only attend their own camp at their own campus. College coaches may not attend combines at all.

    If you receive an email, postcard, text, social media, etc., for a camp or combine stating college coaches will be on hand, well run away as fast as you can and don't look back. The only exception is if the college itself is producing the camp.

    NCAA Rules prohibit coaches from attending off campus combines or camps.

    "COMBINES involve “testing”. Players run the 40, vertical jump, run the Shuttle, bench press and in some cases other events where their performances can be evaluated. At the Nike Combines, those numbers are combine to obtain a SPARQ rating. As per the new NCAA rules, college coaches are prohibited from attending combines. In addition, no longer can “combines” be held on college campuses.
    SKILLS CAMPS involve football skills. Players perform football related skills relative to their chosen position. Players can still be measured (ht/wt) at camps, but no “testing” may occur. If those camps are held within the Spring Evaluation window (April 15-May 31), college coaches may attend and watch players workout (except Sundays). Those camps can be held on college campuses.
    College coaches want prospects to attend combines, so that they can get an independent evaluation on their speed, size, etc, because they themselves can’t attend. College coaches also want prospects to attend camps in the spring evaluation window, so they can personally observe them
    A year ago, the two events could be combined. No longer.""

    Don't believe independent promotions touting that a college coach will be around at their camp or combine possibly handing out scholarships, it just not true.

    Dishonest camps or combines promoting such false advertising don't deserve your hard earned money. Remember, college coaches can attend Spring Evaluation only form April 15 - May 31).

    Reference http://www.randyrodgersrecruiting.com/_d_storyDescription.asp?id=70

  • 18 Apr 2016 8:33 PM | William Lee (Administrator)

    College Football Camps and Combines

    Football Camps and CombinesIt is not whether you should attend a camp or combine, but which ones are the best for improving your chances at a scholarship. Signing up for camps and just hoping to get discovered is not a good strategy. You should only be attending camps at the schools where the coaches have shown interest in you. When attending combines or showcases, you need to be choosing the ones that college scouts routinely attend.

    This page is going to give you everything you need to identify schools, camps and combines that are going to get you recruited and in position for a scholarship.

    Attend Camps at the Schools You Are Interested In

    If you are serious about playing for a particular school you should plan on attending the summer/ID camp there. The evaluations coaches make during these camps go a long way in determining who they will be making scholarship offers to. Before you just sign up for camp at Alabama, you need to make sure you are being invited as a recruit and not just a camper.

    Coaches will invite just about any athlete to their camp. If you will pay the money, you can attend. However, you will notice when you are there, while there might be a couple hundred campers, coaches are really only focused on a select group. The group getting all of the attention are the athletes that have been evaluated before camp and identified as recruits for the program. This means the coaches identified them (usually online or through a scouting service), have already watched their film and invited them to camp for a closer look.

    It is a only a good idea to attend camp at a school interested in recruiting you. To make sure you are good enough to play at that school, email the coaches before camp and sending them your highlight film. *Our free online profiles make it easy for you to have all of your information in one place and share it with coaches. Create a profile by clicking on the parent or athlete button at the top of the page.  Once the coaches respond and if it sounds like the coach is interested in you as a recruit, then attending that camp will help your recruiting.

    Get Exposure at Combines and Showcases

    Football combines and showcases can be a great opportunity for a recruit to compete against other top recruits and catch the attention of college scouts. When looking at a combine or showcase, you want to be sure it has other top recruits in attendance. This ensures scouts will be there and if you do well you can get some good publicity. Every year relatively unknown recruits make a name for themselves at a combine or showcase by having a great performance. Remember, college coaches are not allowed to attend these events, so your goal is to get the attention of scouts who share their reports from the event with college coaches.

    Here are a few of the combines we recommend. This is by no means a complete list of combines, but these events have an established history of attracting elite recruits and top scouts.

    • Schuman’s National Combines – These events are among the longest running combines in the country. They hast several invite only events where top recruits compete against one another. In order to get invited to the elite events, you need to attend an open combine and do well.
    • Nike Football Training Camps (NFTC) – These events are free to the student athlete but are invite only. If your coach is willing to make a recommendation and/or you send your highlight tape in to the NFTC staff, chances are you can get in to the regional event.
    • Nike SPARQ Combines – These events are free as well. If you are looking to get into the NFTC events or get some verified combine numbers to share with coaches I recommend you attend these events.
    • Combines for high school seniors and junior college athletes – All of the events listed above are for athletes graduating in 2015 or later. If you are a senior or junior college athlete looking for a combine, Schuman’s has events for you.


    Advice on How to avoid wasting money on camps or combines

    Can you handle the competition at elite camps?

    Where do you stack up against current college football players? We break down it down by Offense and Defensive.

    It is your job to understand the NCAA Eligibility Requirements.

    If you are having a difficult time identifying camps or showcases please contact me directly. Author: David Frank

  • 23 Mar 2016 1:55 PM | William Lee (Administrator)

    By Siobhan Kelley - June 4, 2014

    A parent looks away from a crowded swimming pool to answer a phone call; a driver makes a split-second decision to try to make it through a yellow light with a sudden burst of speed. We recoil when we read these scenarios because we know only too well that tragedy can result.

    What happens when these incidents involve volunteers for your nonprofit? Your organization might be liable for the resulting injury.

    Volunteers are the lifeblood of many nonprofits. But the actions of a volunteer can also create devastating liability for the organizations in a personal injury claim. While the law provides some relief for the negligent acts of volunteers, these laws vary widely from state to state and are often misunderstood. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your nonprofit will be exempt from liability because its purposes are charitable, or because the person responsible for the harm is a volunteer.

    A nonprofit will not necessarily be able to avoid liability for the negligent acts of its volunteers simply because they aren’t being paid. A volunteer might “step into the shoes” of an employee even where there is no actual employment relationship.

    In general, the most important factor will be the extent of control that the nonprofit exerted over the volunteer’s activity. The more dangerous the activity, the more important it is that the nonprofit has exercised the appropriate care. A lack of training and oversight is a common theme in these cases.

    For example, a California nonprofit was found liable for the acts of its volunteer scuba diving instructor after a student drowned. Nonprofit managers knew the volunteer was not a certified scuba instructor, and the court pointed out that activities that are extra hazardous or inherently dangerous may subject the nonprofit to liability.

    A patchwork of laws offers limited immunity from personal liability for the volunteers, often with special requirements or exceptions. At the federal level, the Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 (the Act) offers qualified immunity for volunteers for acts of ordinary negligence that were committed while volunteering for a qualified nonprofit or governmental organization. Under the Act, a volunteer for a qualified nonprofit generally will not be personally liable for harm caused if:

    1. They acted within the scope of their responsibilities;

    2. They were properly licensed or certified (if required under the circumstances);

    3. The harm was not caused by negligence and not willful or reckless misconduct; and,

    4. The harm was not caused by the volunteer operating a motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft, or other vehicle for which the owner or operator is required to possess an operator’s license or maintain insurance.

    The Act was intended to encourage individuals to volunteer by reducing their personal liability, but will not do the same for the nonprofit.

    Unfortunately, nonprofit managers often mistakenly believe that these so-called Good Samaritan laws protect the organization. Nonprofits will not be able to avoid liability under state volunteer protection laws as they only protect the volunteer from personal liability. Laws protecting nonprofit organizations, called “charitable immunity” laws, have fallen out of favor. Courts have generally agreed that individuals’ right to recover for their injuries should not be limited because the institution responsible for the harm is a charity.

    In a 1981 case, the U.S. Supreme Court found a nonprofit camp liable for the injuries to a camper who was injured by a rock thrown by another camper. The court called charitable immunity an “antiquated rule,” finding that “…a charitable institution is subject to liability for its tortuous conduct the same as any other person or corporation.” Although a minority of states offer some form of charitable immunity protection it is the nonprofit, not the volunteer, who usually ends up liable for harm caused by a volunteer.

    While volunteer protection or charitable immunity may provide a limited defense for certain claims, nonprofit managers still must consider the costs of defending a lawsuit. Without adequate protection, in certain cases, a nonprofit’s officers and directors could be personally responsible for a judgment against the nonprofit. One of the most important ways to protect the nonprofit is with appropriate insurance coverage, including general liability and directors and officers coverage, that names volunteers as additional insureds.

    A Directors and Officers policy should not be considered a replacement for other important forms of insurance such as an automobile, property and general liability. Ask whether a policy will cover acts of volunteers and in what circumstances. For example, most polices will not cover intentional acts. Some policies will provide an attorney, and others will only reimburse the legal costs after the conclusion of the case. Make sure you understand the exclusions, and what other coverage may exist to help cover these gaps.

    Of course, the most effective way to manage the risk of being sued is to reduce the risk of harm in the first place. Consider that your volunteers might expose the nonprofit to the same risks as employees, and treat them accordingly. Best practices include a comprehensive risk management program, volunteer training, informed safety procedures and a robust procedure for reporting concerns. Some insurance companies offer special discounts or programs available to help nonprofits reduce risk.

    While there is no silver bullet that eliminates all volunteer risk, you can protect your nonprofit and its board members by obtaining the appropriate insurance coverage and following best risk management practices. NPT

    Siobhan Kelley is a labor employment risk manager with the Nonprofits Insurance Alliance Group. She previously served as in-house counsel for a large technology corporation. Her undergraduate degree is from the University of California San Diego and her law degree is from Santa Clara University School of Law. Kelley is a member of the California State Bar.

  • 22 Mar 2016 3:31 PM | William Lee (Administrator)

    Nate Boudreaux Fri, 08/21/2015 - 1:32pm

    The game your 10-year-old plays on Saturday mornings or your 16-year-old plays on Friday nights is vastly different than college games you watch on Saturday afternoons or the pro game on Sundays.

    And many of the rules are different, too. 

    Unfortunately, many coaches – especially at the youth level – and and even more parents don’t know the rules and sometimes confuse them with what they see on TV.

    So, before berating the official at a pee-wee football game for not implementing a 10-second runoff at the end of a half, here are a few notable rule differences between NCAA, NFL, youth and high school football that you should know.

    NOTE: These definitions are based on the National Federation of High School Associations and the USA Football rule books, the most commonly used text for the high school and youth levels. Youth leagues can adapt these rules to their local preferences.

    • There is no “outside the tackle box” in youth or high school football. This is probably my favorite as I’ve seen endless coaches and fans lose their mind over this one – and be wrong. At the college and NFL levels, if a quarterback is outside of the tackle, he can throw the ball away – as long as it crosses the line of scrimmage – in an effort to avoid a sack. At the high school and youth levels, there is no such rule. If a quarterback intentionally throws the ball out of bounds with no receiver in the area, it doesn’t matter whether he is outside the tackle box or not. It’s a penalty for intentional grounding.
    • There is no 5-yard “chuck” rule in youth or high school football like there is in the NFL. Actually, it’s a foul if a defensive backs plays bump-and-run coverage.  The high school rules state the defenders can contact an eligible offensive receiver in an effort to “ward off a potential block,” but if it’s a passing play and that receiver is not trying to block, he can’t be contacted by a defender. This foul doesn’t get called as much as it should because everyone – coaches and fans – assume the contact is legal because that’s what they see on TV every Sunday.
    • Personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in youth and high school football do not carry an automatic first down. Those are just 15-yard penalties.  Also high school football, defensive pass interference no longer carries the automatic first down either –  just the 15-yard penalty. It does not make a difference in most cases except when teams face a goal-to-go situation. In those scenarios, not getting an automatic first down after one of those fouls could be a game-changer.
    • In high school and youth football, a kick – punt, kickoff or field goal attempt – that crosses the plane of the goal line becomes dead. So coaches, there’s no need to place a player under the goal post in an attempt to return a long missed field goal attempt in youth or high school football. The ball is dead once it crosses the goal line.
    • There are no “free fouls” in youth or high school football, meaning if the defense commits a foul during a live ball (i.e. defensive holding or pass interference) and the offense scores on the play, the penalty can be enforced on the try or succeeding kickoff. All too many times, you see coaches wanting to decline these penalties. They simply don’t realize it can be enforced on the kickoff.

    Hopefully this helps clarify some things and saves a few youth coaches and parents from blowing a gasket for no reason.  Enjoy the season.

  • 22 Mar 2016 11:46 AM | William Lee (Administrator)

    Published: May 30, 2013

    Attorney Timothy D. Fenner

    Waivers of liability are a fact of life. You sign up your kids for swimming lessons or tennis lessons or some sort of parks and recreation activity, and you invariably are confronted with a “waiver of liability” form, releasing the particular organization from liability from any injury your child may sustain during the activity. You rent a boat or an all-terrain vehicle or a snowmobile, and you are confronted with a waiver of liability in favor of the business supplying the boat, ATV or snowmobile.

    The point is there are many businesses that provide products and services to the public, on the premise that by having their customer execute a waiver of liability, the businesses are limiting their exposure for liability and attendant damages. But are they?

    I have read many waiver of liability forms. Most are incredibly broad and all-inclusive; and if these waivers are enforced literally, the business would never have any liability for the particular activity. Over the last several years, there has been significant litigation in Wisconsin concerning the enforceability of waivers of liability. In the year 2005, the Wisconsin Supreme Court observed: “Indeed, each exculpatory contract (i.e., waiver of liability) that this court has looked at in the past 25 years has been held unenforceable.” SeeRainbow Country Rentals and Retail, Inc. v. Ameritech Publishing, Inc., 205 Wis. 153 at paragraph 35. Throughout this last 25-year period, the courts have repeatedly said that waivers of liability clauses are and will continue to be looked at with disfavor. Waivers of liability (i.e., an exculpatory clause) are not invalid per se. Rather, provisions of any such waiver must be closely scrutinized and strictly construed against the party seeking to rely on it.

    Recently, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals issued a decision in Brooten v. Hoist Fitness Systems, Inc., et al. (Appeal No. 2012 AP 1940). In that case, an individual was injured at a fitness center when a weight bench he was using failed. The bench collapsed because a component had not been properly installed, and the supporting bolts had not been tightened. The injured person brought a common-law negligence, safe place and strict liability claim against the fitness center. The fitness center required every one of its customers to sign a waiver form before they were permitted to use the facility and the equipment. The waiver was very comprehensive. The customer acknowledged inherent risks and dangers associated with the fitness activities; that the activities could result in personal injury; and that the customer assumed such risks, but nevertheless desired to participate in the fitness activities. The customer agreed to release, waive and discharge—as well as hold harmless, defend and indemnify—the fitness center from any claims, actions or losses for bodily injury which may arise out of the customer’s use of any equipment or participation in these activities.

    The question before the Court of Appeals was whether or not the waiver was enforceable. The Court held that it was not. Generally, exculpatory clauses have been analyzed on principles of contract law and on public policy grounds. However, the contractual analysis has been de-emphasized; and waivers are generally reviewed on the basis of whether or not it is contrary to public policy. In the case before it, the Court concluded that the fitness center’s liability waiver was contrary to public policy and, therefore, void and unenforceable. In reaching this conclusion, the court noted the following:

    1. The waiver was presented to the customer on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. The law in Wisconsin is that the form itself must provide an opportunity to the customer to “bargain.” The absence of an opportunity to bargain in regard to the term of an exculpatory clause is a significant factor suggesting a violation of public policy.
    2. The waiver was impermissibly broad and all-inclusive. It is well-settled law that an exculpatory clause can only release claims of “negligence.” It cannot, under any circumstances, bargained for or not, preclude claims based upon “reckless or intentional conduct.” The waiver before the court was broad and applied to causes of action “…caused by negligence or any other clause.” This would suggest a release for claims based upon reckless or intentional conduct. Further, the release required the customer to both “defend and indemnify” the fitness center. This went beyond just simply a mere release.
    3. Finally, the court indicated that the waiver was unenforceable because it exceeded the contemplation of the parties. The court specifically indicated: “We are satisfied that an ordinary consumer would not contemplate that “defend and indemnify” language buried in the middle of a form’s text would require him or her to provide a legal defense for (the fitness center) and to pay (the fitness center’s) share of damages in the event a third party sued (the fitness center).

    For the foregoing reasons, the waiver was held unenforceable.

    For those businesses that use waiver of liability forms, it is essential that the form be appropriately drafted. With respect to drafting, the only advice I could give is that “less is more.” Do not try to make your waivers of liability forms all-inclusive covering everything and anything under the sun. By doing so, you run into the trap of being overbroad. The focus should be on negligence and negligence alone. Further, do you really need to have an “indemnity” and a “defend” clause in the waiver? Isn’t the release of liability sufficient? Finally, with the requirement that there be an opportunity for “bargaining,” you are going to have to be creative and develop some sort of bargaining proposal or format. For example, if I am a business renting an all-terrain vehicle, I could charge one rate if the waiver is signed and another rate (presumably significantly higher) if a waiver was not signed. The customer would be given the opportunity to choose and, therefore, perhaps “bargain” as contemplated in the court decisions.

    The bottom line is that waivers of liability are incredibly difficult to enforce. More often than not, courts declare them to be unenforceable. If you or your clients are going to be using such waivers, it is essential that your waivers be drafted in a manner that will at least facially comply with the requirements established by Wisconsin courts.

    To subscribe to email alerts from Axley Law Firm, click here.

    For more information about Waivers of Liability: Are They Worth the Paper They Are Written On?, contact Attorney Timothy D. Fenner at tfenner@axley.com or 608.283.6733.

    Axley Brynelson is pleased to provide articles, legal alerts, and videos for informational purposes, but we are not giving legal advice or creating an attorney/client relationship by providing this information. The law constantly changes, and our publications may not be currently updated. Before relying on any legal information of a general nature, please consult legal counsel as to your particular situation. While our attorneys welcome your comments and questions, keep in mind that any information you provide us, unless you are now a client, will not be confidential.

  • 22 Mar 2016 11:01 AM | William Lee (Administrator)

    by Josh Kosman March 2016

    Copyright 2016 N.Y.P. Holdings, Inc.
    All Rights Reserved

    The New York Post

     Pop Warner, the nation's largest youth football program, has settled its first and only concussion-related lawsuit - brought by a mother who claimed her son committed suicide because of brain injuries he received from playing football in the league, The Post has learned.

    Debra Pyka settled her 2015 suit for less than $2 million, two sources said.

    After Joseph Chernach died at age 25, an autopsy was performed on his brain, which revealed he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, and post-concussion syndrome.

    Chernach played Pop Warner football for four years, beginning when he was 11, court papers allege.

    From ABPop Warner Football Blamed for Former Player’s Suicide

    Pyka had sued for $5 million in punitive damages. The settlement is less than the $2-million-per-player liability policy limit carried by the league, according to one source.

    Under the terms of the sealed settlement, the family is not allowed to speak about the suit or the 87-year-old organization, the source added.

    Pop Warner failed to train coaches and trainers to spot relevant symptoms, and as a consequence, Chernach was never removed from play despite multiple head injuries, the suit alleged.

    A spokesman for the Langhorne, Pa.-based organization said the case has been "resolved with prejudice" - meaning the decision is final - but he would not comment on the terms, citing a nondisclosure agreement.

    Dr. Bennet Omalu, the Nigerian forensic pathologist played by Will Smith in "Concussion" - the film about brain injuries in the NFL - was a key witness for the family, one source said.

    While the settlement is the first for a youth football league in the US, the NFL and its former players have been locked in much-publicized litigation for years over the effects of concussions.

    Last year, a federal judge approved a nearly $1 billion settlement between the NFL and 20,000 retired players.

    The NFL's concussion crisis has trickled down to the high school level.

    At the time Pyka sued, Pop Warner had $2 million in liability insurance on players in Wisconsin through Lexington Insurance Company, a subsidiary of AIG.

    Today, Pop Warner carries $1 million in liability insurance per player through K&K Insurance Group. Individual chapters have the option of carrying an additional $1-million-per-player policy.

    Pop Warner countered the Pyka suit allegations by claiming parents should have been aware that - although severe injuries are "extremely rare" - there were serious risks to playing youth football, according to the suit.

    The organization has 325,000 participants in its football, dance and cheerleading programs in the country, according to the company's Web site.

    Pop Warner had a record 248,899 players in its football program in 2010, but participation dropped 9.5 percent from 2010 to 2012, according to figures obtained by ESPN.

    Growing awareness of head injuries prompted some parents to pull their kids from the sport, while participation in team sports is down across the board in general.

    Starting in 2010, Pop Warner has followed Washington state laws requiring coaches to bench a youth if they suspect a concussion. Afterward, the kid can't play again until cleared by a qualified physician.


  • 18 Mar 2016 9:48 AM | William Lee (Administrator)
    By Brian Robinson, MS, ATC on March 16, 2016

    Recently, the NCAA ruled that athletic trainers and team physicians should have the final decision with regard to medical management and return-to-play (RTP) decisions related to student-athletes following injury or illness. This ruling governing NCAA member schools specifies that a coach cannot dismiss or override the decisions of the team physician or athletic trainer. It also creates a foundation of administrative structure within the athletic department where the sports medicine program is free from the influence of the coach, thus protecting the student-athlete and the athletic health-care provider when making RTP decisions.

    At the high school level, conflicts arise among coaches, parents, students and health-care providers as to the readiness of a student-athlete to return to activity. Since most of these students are minors, the decision regarding their readiness to return to play lies in the hands of many individuals.

    It is quite common that five or more individuals will have a role in this decision-making process. Obviously, the parents of the student-athlete play a key role. The student-athlete’s personal physician and team physician, if available, share responsibility for this decision. The athletic trainer, if one is employed by the school, has an integral part to play as well. The coach obviously wants the player back as quickly as possible if he or she is healthy. And, finally, the player certainly has a role in the RTP decision.

    The responsibility for risk minimization within the interscholastic athletic program can be influenced by many individuals, situations and protocols. So, who should have the final say when it comes to RTP decisions?

    There was a time when athletic directors would support a coach over the opinions of the athletic trainer or team physician because “the coach knew the player better” than either the athletic trainer or team physician since the coach had daily contact with that player. There was a belief that the coach was in a better position to judge the abilities of the player to “safely” participate based on this daily contact.

    Obviously, high school administrators now understand the error in allowing non-medically qualified personnel to make medical RTP decisions. By allowing non-medical personnel to make medical decisions, schools were unintentionally exposing themselves to a legal quagmire.

    Certainly parents want the best for their children. There are many emotional and sometimes financial components such as a scholarship that influence their viewpoints when it pertains to high school athletics. Quite often, however, parents may not understand the severity of the injury or the potential consequences of continuing to play or returning to activity before sufficient healing of the injury or illness occurs. On the other hand, a parent may be reluctant to allow his or her child to resume activity for fear of further injury despite assurances from health-care professionals that such risk is minimal.

    Coaches are in a tenuous position. They may be caught between wanting the athlete to return to activity for many reasons, including the leadership role the player may fill, the fact that the player thrives within this activity or the success of the team and wanting to be sure that any resumption of activity will not lead to further injury. Coaches are in an excellent position to aid in the RTP decision by evaluating the ability of the returning player to execute the movements and skills necessary to not only be successful but to reduce further incidents of injury.

    In most cases, the student-athlete is eager to return to the activity but most have questions as to whether they can compete at their previous performance level. It is not uncommon to hear the following questions: “What are the chances of this happening again?” or “Will I be able to run, jump, hit or swing without it hurting?”

    It is important that the student-athlete takes an active role in the RTP decision, being allowed to voice opinions as well as to have questions answered. The student-athlete’s fears and desires must also be taken into consideration. It should be noted that the “warrior mentality” of many student-athletes may influence them to “suck it up,” masking their symptoms or compensations for fear of disappointing or letting down their teammates, coaches or parents.

    The health-care team comprised of the personal physician, team physician and athletic trainer must openly communicate during the recovery process not only with each other but with all the individuals involved in the decision. The athletic trainer is in the position to test the quality of functional movement exhibited by the athlete not only to return successfully but with minimal risk of further injury.

    In the November 2015 issue of High School Today, James A. Onate, Ph.D., ATC, and John Black, J.D. discuss many of the legal issues to consider including the duties and professional responsibilities of the “appropriate health-care professionals.” The authors also discuss the risk vs. reward aspects of the decision process. It is important that the health-care team document all clinical as well as functional evaluations related to the recovery and readiness of the student.

    Administrators should develop a protocol that not only includes but encourages open communication among all the individuals involved in the process. If any individual involved in the RTP decision process does not believe the student is ready to return to activity, the athlete should be withheld until additional recovery has been accommodated. If the health-care team does not believe the student-athlete can return without risk of further injury or re-injury, then the student-athlete should continue treatment. The same can be said for the parent, even if the health-care team is confident that the student is healthy enough to return. Based on the ability of the player to execute the skills needed to return successfully and with minimal risk, the coach may decide that the player has not recovered adequately to contribute to the success of the team.

    Lastly and possibly most importantly, what is the opinion of the student-athlete? There are many factors – physical and emotional – that students face when preparing to return to their activity. Despite the positive opinions of all those individuals mentioned previously, if the student-athlete does not feel adequately prepared to return to play, that opinion must be respected by all.

    On examining the role of each of the individuals involved in the RTP decision process, it is important to keep the overriding commonality first and foremost: the ultimate health and safety of the student-athlete.

  • 03 Mar 2016 7:01 AM | William Lee (Administrator)

    By Doug Samuels

    Posted on March 2, 2016


    Yesterday, the Ivy League announced that its member schools will no longer be allowed to tackle during practice once the season starts.

    That may be a monumental change for some programs, but it won’t be anything new for Dartmouth. Buddy Teevens told Dan Patrick on air this morning that his program hasn’t tackle live during practice in five years and he and his staff have turned that into part of their recruiting pitch, telling recruits that they will “never tackle one of their teammates in their four of five years on campus” . Last year, Teevens made a splash with the introduction of Dartmouth’s Mobile Virtual Player (MVP), a groundbreaking mobile pop-up dummy that can simulate a ball carrier, or a second level defender for offensive lineman to practice their cut blocks on.

    When I saw Teevens speak at the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association a few weeks ago as part of the Practice Like the Pros speaking circuit, he said when he first told his defensive coordinator of the no-tackling policy he looked back at him like he was crazy.

    It didn’t take long for him to see the benefits though. Teevens told Dan Patrick and his crew that after their first season implementing the changes, missed tackles at Dartmouth dropped “literally 50%.” Let that sink in for a second. No live tackling, only dummies, and immediate results. Think of how much better your program would have been last season if you could have cut your missed tackles in half.

    When asked if they practice tackling at Dartmouth, Teevens responded, “We do. A lot of high schools do a wonderful job, but to hone skills and keep them sharp. The hard thing is, it’s the most injurious skill on the football field, and it is practiced the least as a result.”

    “By doing it with bags, we become a lot more consistent, and a lot more confident by player. And actually, the first season we went to this we dropped our missed tackles literally 50%. We cut them in half.”

    Asked if the new Ivy League policy is something that the NCAA should adopt nationally, Teevens shared, “I think coaches are the ones that have to drive the change.”

    “I tell coaches that either we change the way that we coach the game, or we won’t have a game to coach. I think that if everyone just stepped away from the paranoia about taking things away and just said, ‘Do we really need this much contact?’ The NFL and people say that they are better athletes, well yeah, but tackling is like riding a bike, you don’t forget how to do it. If we just didn’t do it as frequently, statistically the highest number of concussions occur during practice.”

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