Under Assembly Bill 2127, drafted by Assemblyman Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova), high school and middle school football teams will be allowed just two sessions of full-contact practice each week in the preseason and regular season and no full-contact practice in the off-season. The law goes into effect Jan. 1.
In his statement released Monday, Cooley said that evidence showed that younger players were just as susceptible as professional players to brain injuries, and the effects could be long-lasting.
Dr. Robert Williams — one of two team physicians for Tracy, West and Kimball high schools, along with Dr. Ian Pulliam — said it was a reasonable step toward reducing brain injuries in sports.
“We all saw this coming. We saw a public outcry not just at this level, but all the way to the pros,” Williams said. “They’re gradually increasing the laws as we go along, and this is one more thing.”
He noted that under existing state law, team doctors — him, Pulliam, or any of the three local chiropractors who serve in that role — are obligated to pull a player from a game if they suspect that player has a concussion.
He added that Tracy Unified School District, which includes Tracy, West and Kimball high schools, has a program that tests athletes for cognitive function at the start of the athletic season and then retests them if they are suspected of having a concussion.
Williams said that the program could document long-term effects of a concussion in an individual and create a database to help doctors and coaches recognize the severity of injuries and gain a better idea of what it takes for an athlete to recover.
Williams said that while he had seen fewer serious brain injuries from football in recent years, public awareness of health risks from concussions had led to more hospital trips.
“What you’re seeing now is more people coming in and being evaluated. You see more recognition,” he said.
“If these kids have any injuries, they’re getting them in to be evaluated.”
• Contact Bob Brownne at email@example.com or 830-4227.