Our Town Traditions: HSFB Practice Contact Limit

(July 30, 2013) -- In what's considered a violant game with potential long term health effects, safety restrictions have made its way to Texas high school football. A rule limiting the amount of contact in practice to 90 minutes per week during the season goes into effect.

"In looking at it with our medical advisory committee and with our state covers groups, felt like if we could put something in place that would limit that amount of contact but not necessarily overall impact the practices the coaches are allowed to do," said UIL Director of Athletics Dr. Mark Cousins." "Still give them time during the preseason, during the spring, that a limit on contact during the season wouldn't necessarily be a tremendous impact on or limit their ability to prepare their kids for participation."

Speaking with some Central Texas area coaches, the new 90 minute contact in-season limit isn't a big deal.

"For our concept and what we do, it's not going to affect us very much because on a weekly process, by Monday and Tuesday most of our hay is in the barn," said Lorena head coach Ray Biles. "Wednesday we're going to do very little and most coaches, I guarantee you, around the state are the same way."

"They may be out there a couple hours a day but probably doing more group stuff than we are just lining up and running play after play and blowing a whistle," said Waco High head coach Marty Herbst. "Other than keeping track of that time and having it written down in our practice plan, I don't see it being that major of an issue."

"During the season, we don't take anyone to the ground. It will not change one thing we do. We've been doing that already," said Midway head coach Terry Gambill. "You don't want to lose a kid in practice because then you don't have him on Friday night's. If we don't have players then we don't have a very good football team."

"I don't think it's a bad idea, I think it's a good idea," said Biles. I understand it's for the protection of the kids and we'll definitely stay within that guidelines."

Enforcement of the new rule is up to the schools.

"It's going to be like any other rule we have. Ultimately the school is going to be responsible for compliance," said Dr. Cousins. "It's just like any eligibility rule that we have or any practice rule that we have. Ultimately we're a self policing organization. Our schools become members of our association and they agree to follow the rules and do what the rules indicate. If someone alleges that they're in violation, we'll do an investigation and we've got a range of penalties available should schools be found not to be in compliance."

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