More than 25 youth football league commissioners, from across Wisconsin, gathered in the Lambeau Field press box on Saturday, Feb. 25, to attend the Packers' and USA Football's 2012 State Leadership Forum.
During the forum, USA Football, the official youth football development partner of the Packers and the NFL, led an open discussion with the leaders on a variety of topics that they had submitted prior to meeting. Some of the topics included registration techniques, proper equipment fitting, heat and hydration, parental behaviors and involvement, USA Football membership opportunities, and the salient topic of concussion prevention and education.
"Today's forum has a huge focus on concussion education and prevention," said Gary DelVecchio, Director of Membership for USA Football. "Each youth football leader will be taking home a concussion awareness kit, provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."
The USA Football discussion leaders explained that concussion awareness is now a part of coaching certifications. Part of this education includes teaching the importance of implementing tackling progression techniques. When being tackled correctly, concussions are less likely to occur.
"We use these leaders as resources to employ USA Football and NFL concepts into communities and youth football teams across the country," DelVecchio said. "We show a great deal of support to the NFL's initiative 'When in Doubt, Sit them Out' campaign, which promotes protecting youth from playing too soon after experiencing effects of a concussion."
While participating in a roundtable discussion on the topic, it was concluded that initial interest in concussion awareness was poor within their community's families. Most programs' concussion testing is voluntary only and the data being produced through testing is still questionable due to the player's ages (6-14).
"Research is still being done on the short- and long-term effects of concussions," DelVecchio said. "Many families are just not educated on the topic enough to realize the harm that can be caused by continuing to play when suffering a head injury."
Although research is still in its early stages and parental support wasn't initially present, many state youth football programs have realized the severity of head traumas, and have begun taking action.
When the youth football leaders were asked whether or not their programs had implemented any youth concussion educating programs, over half of the room of more than 30 groups raised their hands.
State youth football leaders left the forum with numerous resources in order to promote the proper skill development, safety education, and best practices for their players' benefit.
USA Football hosts 41 State Leadership Forums across the country while providing youth football league commissioners and presidents the opportunity to better their programs.