Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation limiting full-contact football practice for California teenagers, his office announced Monday.
The legislation comes amid increasing concern about brain injuries in football.
Assembly Bill 2127, by Assemblyman Ken Cooley, D-Rancho Cordova, prohibits middle school and high school football teams from holding full-contact practices during the offseason and limits them to no more than two full-contact practices per week during the preseason and regular season.
Nineteen other states have banned full-contact high school football practices in the offseason, according to a legislative analysis.
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Escalon coach Mark Loureiro, who is a member of the California Interscholastic Federation’s State Football Advisory Committee, said he supports the new legislation.
“I think the governor’s doing the right thing,” said Loureiro, who has guided the Cougars to eight section titles and a state crown during his 28-year tenure. “We have contact on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Monday is a learning period, going over the game plan, studying the opponents’ tendencies. Thursday is a dress rehearsal.
“At small schools like ours, you can’t beat up your kids. You’ve got guys going both ways and you’ve got to stay healthy. By the time we get to Week 4 or 5, we’re barely hitting at all.”
According to AB 2127:
• “Full-contact practice” means a practice where drills or live action is conducted that involves collisions at game speed, where players execute tackles and other activity that is typical of an actual tackle football game.
• A high school or middle school football team shall not conduct more than two full-contact practices per week during the preseason and regular season.
• The full-contact portion of a practice shall not exceed 90 minutes in any single day.
• A high school or middle school football team shall not hold a full-contact practice during the offseason.
• A team camp session shall be deemed to be a practice.
• “Offseason” means a period extending from the end of the regular season until 30 days before the commencement of the next regular season.
• “Preseason” means a period of 30 days before the commencement of the regular season.
Davis coach Tim Garcia who, like Loureiro, doubles as the school’s athletic director, already is far below the new state standard.
“During the season, we’re hitting on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for no more than 40 minutes for the whole practice,” Garcia said. “The team camps will be eliminated, though. Some coaches are pretty gung-ho about those, but I can go either way.”
Loureiro points out that in nearly three decades as Escalon’s head coach he has never attended or conducted a summer camp where full contact was permitted.
“We go with helmets, shoulder pads and shorts,” he said. “We just want the kids to get used to wearing and playing in some equipment. The ‘livest’ thing we do is seven-on-seven drills.”
“The bottom line of the law is teams need to take precaution with their players,” Merced coach Rob Scheidt said. “When the law comes down, who is enforcing it? Hopefully, coaches are enforcing it. That’s a whole other area. I think athletic departments, school administrators and coaches need to get together to determine how they are to enforce this law in their programs. They need to define the law to have a better understanding of how to follow the law. What is game speed?”