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POP WARNER BECOMES FIRST NATIONAL FOOTBALL ORGANIZATION TO ELIMINATE KICKOFFS
Aims to decrease full-speed impact in games; Pop Warner to also reduce contact to 25% of practice time
LANGHORNE, PA (May 12, 2016) –In another major step to make the game safer and better: Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc., the nation’s oldest and most prominent youth football organization, today announced that it will become the first national football organization to eliminate kickoffs. The ban, which will take effect in the three youngest divisions when the season begins this fall, is aimed at significantly reducing the amount of full-speed, head-on impact in games.
Instead of kicking it off, the ball will be placed at the 35-yard line to start each half and after each score in all Tiny Mite (5- to 7-years-old), Mitey Mite (7-9) and Junior Pee Wee (8-10) games. Following the season, Pop Warner will review the results of the move as it considers implementation in older divisions.
“We are constantly working to make the game safer and better for our young athletes, and we think this move is an important step in that direction,” said Jon Butler, Pop Warner’s executive director. “Eliminating kickoffs at this level adds another layer of safety without changing the nature of this great game. We are excited to look at the results at the end of the year as we explore additional measures.”
Pop Warner also announced a further reduction of contact time in practice across all divisions. After limiting player contact to only 33 percent of practice time in 2012, Pop Warner will now restrict contact to approximately 25 percent of practice time, beginning this season.
The moves are just the latest in Pop Warner changes aimed at enhanced player safety.