Suggested Guidelines for Parents And Coaches to Discuss
Goal: Safety Should Be Top Priority For All

  • Firm understanding among all parties that safety is the top priority
  • Certification and training coaches have received (head coaches certification, Keep the Head Out of Football, etc.)
  • Pre-season and in-season practice policy (amount of contact, full pads, etc.)
  • Heat policy relative to all activities
  • Review the Concussion Management Policy and protocols, e.g., removed from practice or game, no participation until cleared by Concussion Oversight Team, etc.
  • If applicable, discuss baseline concussion testing programs
  • Helmet and equipment safety standards and procedures (i.e., quality helmets that are certified every year and fitted by a trained professional)
  • Critical importance of a quality mouthpiece (invest in a mouthpiece for better protection)
  • Information on the safety personnel available at practices and games (physicians, trainers, ambulances, etc.)
  • Discuss and review any emergency management plans and protocol concerning major injuries, lightning, etc.
  • Outside of safety, engage in conversations about why you want your kids to play and coaches can provide insights on the other benefits the game provides (discipline, teamwork, increased focus on academics, etc.)

USA Football is setting the standards and best practices to advance coach and player development. To learn more and help USA Football promote and drive smarter football nationwide, visit here.

American Development Model
The American Development Model (ADM), created by the United States Olympic Committee and first introduced by USA Hockey, serves as a framework for long-term athlete development. The ADM joins Heads Up Football in USA Football’s ongoing commitment to advancing the sport for millions of young athletes across our nation.

Heads Up Football
Heads Up Football is the safer way to practice and play. USA Football has worked with leaders in both medicine and sport across the country to create a full-featured program that any league or school can use to address key safety issues — and ensure that every coach understands and knows how to implement each component of the program.

FUNdamentals introduces athletes, ages 5-15, to football by teaching basic skills in a fun and energetic environment. Clinicians use a series of drills to show passing, catching and running skills in a non-contact setting.

The Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) develops through resources for youth and high school sports coaches, parents, administrators and student-athletes.

Why Positive is Powerful
A positive approach gets the most from youth and high school athletes, which is what coaches, parents and the athletes themselves want. Staying positive also helps youth get the most out of sports.

Encouraging athletes with positive reinforcement helps them hear and heed the necessary corrections. With that winning combination of truthful, specific praise and constructive criticism, athletic performance improves and so do the chances that kids stick with sports longer and learn all the valuable life lessons inherently available through organized competition.

Academic research and real-world scoreboard results from millions of coaches, parents and athletes that PCA has trained and educated prove what the pro and college coaches on PCA’s National Advisory Board already know: Positive is powerful.

Pop Warner was founded in 1929, and continues to grow and serves as the only youth football, cheerleading & dance organization that requires its participants to maintain academic standards in order to participate. Pop Warner’s commitment to academics is what separates the program from other youth sports around the world.

With approximately 325,000 youth participants ranging from ages 5 to 16 years old, Pop Warner is the largest youth football, cheer and dance program in the world.

For over 90 years, the medical community has considered the idea that repeated injuries to the brain may cause long-term neurological and psychological impairment or damage. Recently, there has been public debate about the risk of participating in contact sports. This interest has been fueled by reports of high-profile professional athletes who experienced a progressive decline of their physical and thinking abilities, and changes in mood and behavior at earlier ages than normally expected. In some cases, these athletes committed suicide. Examination of their brains after death revealed abnormalities in many, but not all, of the players’ brains. These abnormal findings have been called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE. Some medical researchers (see references) have suggested that the CTE was a result of concussions or repeated hits to their heads during their playing careers. The media attention that followed raised public concern about the risks of developing CTE from playing contact sports. However, many of the media accounts contained inaccurate information, leaving the public misinformed and confused about CTE.

Scientific research is being conducted to understand CTE better and how it may be related to brain trauma. This research is still in the early stages. Many questions remain unanswered. This Q & A Fact Sheet was created by the Sports Neuropsychology Society to provide answers, based on currently available scientific data, to some of the frequently asked questions and concerns about CTE. It is written for parents, coaches, athletes, policymakers and other health care stakeholders.

CTE Fact Sheet

CTE is a syndrome characterized by abnormal changes in brain cells (abnormal tau proteins) that can be detected only at autopsy by microscopic examination of brain tissue. The presence of abnormal tau proteins is not unique to CTE since it is also found in the brains of people with other neurological conditions. It has been reported that the pattern of abnormal tau protein deposits appears different in CTE and may be indicative of a unique condition possibly related to brain trauma. It has also been reported that the syndrome may be progressive with worsening symptoms over time. However, research on the cause and the long-term effects of CTE is in its early stages and is inconclusive at this time.

To find a neuropsychologist in your geographic area who specializes in sports brain trauma and concussion, go to

The above information is based on the current research evidence that was available at the time of the publication of this document (August 31, 2017) and represents the consensus of expert opinion of the Policy and Planning Committee members and Executive Board of the Sports Neuropsychology Society.

Information presented in this document is not intended as medical consultation, guidance, prescription or advice. The reader should consult a licensed health care provider about any health concerns.

Davis, G., Castellani, R., McCrory, P. (2015) Neurodegeneration in Sport. Neurosurgery, 76(6) 643-655.
Department of Defense Blast Injury Research Program Coordinating Office. (2015). Does repetitive blast-related trauma contribute to the development of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)?

Iverson, G., Gardner, A., McCrory, P., Zafonte, R., Castellani, R. (2015). A critical review of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews,56, 276-293.

Manley, G., Gardner, A., Schneider, K., Guskiewicz, K., Bailes, J., Cantu, R., Castellani, R., Turner, M., Jordan, B., Randolph, Dvořák , J., Hayden, K.A., Tator, C., McCrory, P., Iverson, G. (2017). A systematic review of potential long-term effects of sport-related concussion. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 51,969-977.

McKee, A., Stein, T., Kiernan, P., Alvarez, V. (2015). The neuropathology of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Brain pathology 25, 350-364.

McCrory, P., Meeuwisse, W., Dvořák, J., Aubry, M. Bailes, J., Broglio, S., Cantu, R., Cassidy, D., Echemendia, R.,
Catellani, R., Davis, G., Ellenbogen, R., Emery, C., Engebresten, L., Feddermann-Demont, N., Giza, C., Guskiewicz, K.,
Herring, S., Iverson, G., Johnston, K., Kissick, J., Kutcher, J., Leddy, J., Maddocks, D., Makdissi, M., Manley, G.,
McCrea, M., Meehan, W., Nagahiro, S., Patricios, J., Putukian, M., Schneider, K., Sills, A., Tator, C., Turner, M., Vos, P. (2017). Consensus statement on concussion in sport – the 5th international conference on concussion in sport held in Berlin, October 2016. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 51, 838-847.

Solomon, G., Zuckerman, S. (2015). Chronic Traumatic encephalopathy in professional sports: retrospective and prospective views. Brain injury 29(2), 164-170.

Bienick, K., Ross, O., Cormier, K., Walton, R., Sotot-Ortolaza, A., Johnston, A., DeSaro, P., Boylan, K., Graff-Radford, N., Wszolck, Z., Rademakers, R., Boeve, B., McKee, A., Dickson, D. (2015). Chronic traumatic encephalopathy pathology in neurodegenerative disorders brain bank. Acta Neuropathol 130, 877-889.

NIH National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2015). Report from the First NIH Consensus Conference to Define the Neuropathological Criteria for the Diagnosis of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

Copyright 2018 Sports Neuropsychology Society

Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy: The Horse Is Still Chasing the Cart
Authors: Breton M. Asken, MS, ATC, Russell M. Bauer, PhD


Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) occupies a unique and expanding position in both the scientific and lay communities concerned with sport participation at all levels. The benefits of rapid, widespread reporting and increased public awareness are counterbalanced by misinformation and an oversimplification of an increasingly complex topic. In this Viewpoint, we will describe the current understanding of CTE pathology and proposed criteria for characterizing traumatic encephalopathy syndrome (TES), the proposed clinical syndrome associated with underlying CTE pathology, but possibly other proteinopathies as well. We want to emphasize that CTE and TES are not the same entity, at least according to our current understanding. We additionally highlight those at greatest risk for CTE and the significant challenges to symptom attribution specific to these populations.

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2018;48(9):672–675. doi:10.2519/jospt.2018.0612

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Good of the Game

  • Builds Community (e.g.: the band, cheerleaders, Friday Night Lights, parent/booster clubs putting stickers on helmets, painting player names/numbers on the windows of the local shoe store, whole towns and campuses come together in support of their team/schools, the bonds that it forms, etc.)
  • Teaches Teamwork, Life Skills, and Work Ethic
  • Creates Opportunities

College Football by the Numbers

College Football (est. 1869):

  • 150th Anniversary of College Football to be Celebrated in 2019
  • 76% Graduation Success Rate of Football Bowl Subdivision Football Student-Athletes*
  • 59% Graduation Rate of General Student Body**
  • 81,000(+) College Football Players at All Levels
  • 99.6 Percent of College Football Players Go On to Other Careers
  • 971 Student-Athletes Who Played in 2017 Had Already Earned Their Undergraduate Degree

*Source: NCAA
**Source: National Center for Education Statistics

778 Colleges & Universities Playing Football at All Levels

  • Seven new college football teams will take the field for the first time this season
  • Five colleges & universities will add football programs in 2019 and beyond
  • In the past six seasons (2012-17), 35 football programs have been added
  • Rationale for adding football varies at each institution
    • Small colleges may cite increasing enrollment and addressing gender imbalances
    • Larger universities might highlight the role of football in raising the institution’s profile and its ability to attract research grants
    • All mention creating a more vibrant on-campus community and connecting with alumni
  • According to a 2015 study of five small universities published in College Planning & Management by Virginia Wesleyan College President Dr. Scott Miller and former Carlow University (Pa.) President Dr. Marylouise Fennell, adding sports teams and facilities, especially football and marching bands, can fuel an enrollment boost.
    • Each of the five institutions experienced a six-year increase of 26 percent or more, with one school doubling its enrollment during that period.
  • Some of the impressive achievements at schools that have recently added football:
    • In 2017, UAB went 8-5 and earned a trip to the Bahamas Bowl in its first season after a two-year hiatus.
    • Georgia State, which launched its program in 2010, won its first bowl game after a win in the AutoNation Cure Bowl and had its first NFF National Scholar-Athlete selection in Chandon Sullivan.
    • At the FCS level, Kennesaw State (launched in 2015) claimed its first conference title in 2017 and reached the quarterfinals of the FCS Playoffs.
    • West Florida, which launched its program just two years ago in 2016, reached the Division II National Championship Game.
    • Berry (Ga.), which kicked off its inaugural season in 2013, claimed its first conference title and first perfect regular season in its history and reached the second round of the Division III Playoffs.
    • Reinhardt (Ga.), which also launched in 2013, posted a perfect regular season, won its conference division title and reached the NAIA National Championship in 2017.
  • These are just some of the impressive achievements at schools that have recently added football. Others include notching impressive attendance figures; attracting increased enrollment; garnering national publicity; expanding their donor bases; and receiving invitations to join conferences at the next level
  • Allen University in Columbia, S.C., which had previously dropped its football program following the 2005 season, is among the new schools this season. Allen also announced it would be bringing back its marching band program after more than 50 years. Administrators believe both programs will attract more students to the university , which has a current enrollment of around 600.
  • Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Mich., will return to the gridiron after a 70-year hiatus this fall and compete as an independent before joining the NAIA’s Mid-States Football Association in 2019. One of the university’s main objectives with the football program is to create an active student body.
  • Barton College in Wilson, N.C., announced the addition of an NCAA Division II football program with the goal of an inaugural season in 2020. The private, liberal arts college’s decision to integrate football into its athletics program is based on its mission of providing programs and opportunities to encourage the intellectual, spiritual, social and cultural development of its students. According to the college’s announcement release, football will enhance campus vibrancy, community engagement and institutional growth
    while helping balance the current gender ratio of 70/30 women to men.
  • Keystone previously sponsored the football in the late 1800s through the 1947 season, and the college believes the new program will reinvigorate the proud tradition the sport once held on campus. According to the college, the success of other recently added sports made football the next logical step to continue the growth of the Keystone student-athlete experience. In addition to the benefits to the players, the college stated that football will provide an enjoyable and uplifting experience for everyone associated with the college, bringing people together to socialize and share common experiences.

*Source: The National Football Foundation