New Jersey moves to limit contact in football

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The executive committee of the organization that governs New Jersey high school athletes has approved a proposal to drastically reduce contact in football before and during the season.

The proposal passed by the executive committee of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association on Wednesday reduces in-season full contact from 90 minutes per week to 15, and preseason full contact from unlimited to 6 hours total, including scrimmages.

There will be no change in the existing ban on full contact in the spring and summer.

The amount of contact is less than mandates or recommendations by the NFL, NCAA, Ivy League, USA Football, Pop Warner, or any other football jurisdiction, the NJSIAA said in its release.

The new regulations won’t take effect until the executive committee has a second reading of the proposal in April and votes again. The vote on Wednesday was unanimous.

The new regulations were proposed in July by the New Jersey Football Coaches Association and Practice Like Pros, a national movement to reduce needless injury in high school football. The NJSIAA’s Sports Medical Advisory Committee approved it in October and sent it to the executive committee.

A similar contact limits proposal is moving forward in Michigan. The representative council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association will consider it in May. If approved, full-contact limits in Michigan would be similar to many of the new, in-season regulations in New Jersey.

The NJSIAA also approved proposals on Wednesday to mandate that all athletes watch a film on opioid addiction which is being developed by the state Attorney General’s office, and a directive limiting practices and games in excessive heat.

“Congratulations and thank you to the NJSIAA and NJFCA,” said Terry O’Neil, founder of Practice Like Pros. “This is a Valentine for the 23,000 boys who play New Jersey high school football. The one certain way to mitigate football injury is to limit contact in practice. New Jersey has pioneered a model that is sure to be emulated across the country.”

Larry White, executive director of the NJSIAA, said the decision was easy.

“The NJSIAA strives to be a leading state association in matters of health and safety for our student-athletes,” he said

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