WIAA official: 'Football safer than it has ever been'

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -- State leaders in youth football gather in Titletown on Saturday to discuss best practices and ways to improve the sport across Wisconsin.


Youth football continues to make headlines across the country. Many of those conversations focus on a decline in participate and a push by lawmakers to ban tackling for young athlete all related to the fear of a long-term injury called cerebral traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

"CTE is definitely a scary, problematic thing, but we don't know how it goes from young football player to ex-professional athlete with CTE," said Dr. Kevin Walter, a pediatric and adolescent sports medicine physician.

However, youth football coaches across the state say the sport is under attack and widely misrepresented.

"I think it's important that we have a gathering like this where we can go ahead and share some of the things that we've done to make football safer," said WIAA Deputy Director Wade Labecki.

When compared to other sports, research shows that football ranks number one for the number of concussions; however, experts say better rules, better equipment, and better education protect young athletes from long-term consequences.

"If you identify the concussion, treat it appropriately, and don't go back until it gets better, I think you can have a concussion and keep playing or go back to playing and it makes it safe and appropriate," said Walter.

The men and women at the Wisconsin State Football Youth Forum hope to spread a passion for the sport among young athletes and their families across the state while also dispelling misinformation.

"The benefits of football are so great that they far outweigh the possibility that you might get a concussion," said Labecki.

"We just want to make sure this sport is fun, because of the life lessons and the friends that you can make through it," said Green Bay Packers Outreach Specialist Ryan Fencl.

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