Coaches always look forward to the time in the middle of summer when their players suit up in full pads and see who can endure the man-on-man collisions that define football.
Next year, coaches won’t get that opportunity until just a few weeks before the season begins.
The main effect of Assembly Bill 2127, which California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law on Monday, is the restriction of full-contact practice to the preseason and regular season, and then for only two days a week. The law is the latest effort to reduce brain injuries caused by concussions.
West High coach Steve Anastasio said that means the three-day camp his team hosted from July 8 to 10 at Steve Lopez Stadium was the last of its kind. He said that the camp and others like it have traditionally been part of the summer workout schedule for high school teams, providing the first chance for coaches to see who can deliver — and who can take — a hit.
“We won’t get to see our kids in full gear until August,” Anastasio said. “It will set us back as far as seeing what our kids can do.”
He added that the important thing was that all the teams followed the same rule: “If everyone is doing the same thing, it won’t give anyone the upper hand.”
Tracy High football coach Matt Shrout agreed that the ban on full-contact camps in the summer would be the biggest change. His team traditionally goes to a camp at St. Mary’s College in Moraga in late June.
Shrout said the camps were a valuable experience for players, especially new players who had yet to be introduced to the rough nature of varsity football.
“(The new rule) may get kids hurt, because it won’t give kids experience on how to make tackles or how to take a hit,” he said.
Shrout expects to see summer football team camps continue, even if players aren’t allowed to have full contact. He said that two days of full-contact practices a week during the season would still allow him and his coaches to prepare players for games.
“We don’t hit on Thursdays anyway. Monday we’ll go light, and Tuesday and Wednesday is when we’ll do stuff,” Shrout said. “We all understand that we can’t beat up 16-, 17-, 18-year-old kids five days a week. We just don’t do it.”
Anastasio said that the twice-a-week provision wasn’t much different from his typical practice schedule. During the season, he reserves Monday’s practice for review of the previous Friday’s game, including film, and Thursday’s practice is when the team reviews its strategy for the next game.
The new law takes effect Jan. 1, so it will not affect the 2014 fall season. Sac-Joaquin Section spokesman Will DeBoard said that would give the section time to incorporate the state law into its own bylaws.
“What we’ll have to do is define exactly what contact is,” DeBoard said.
He said that “contact” could mean hits and blocks, practicing with pads, or any action that brings another player to the ground.
DeBoard said the SJS would look at what other states — 19 have banned off-season full-contact practices — have done to implement their laws.
Contact Bob Brownne at firstname.lastname@example.org or 830-4227.