Despite the popularity of high school football across America, participation has fallen in five of the last six years.
One cause for concern by parents is recent concussion research and possible connections to permanent brain injuries.
Many worry that rule changes to combat concussions will make football unrecognizable, while others think that’s where the game needs to be to become safe.
Ex-NFL star and current Kamehameha head coach Doug Cosbie is fighting for a middle ground through the teaching of proper tackling technique.
“If your brain matter slaps up against your skull, you’re going to have a concussion. It doesn’t matter how tough you think you are,” he said.
“Too be honest, I’m feeling the effects now every once in a while,” said former Kahuku/Hawaii safety Leonard Peters.
Despite the efforts of rule changes that illegalize head-to-head collisions as well as increases in concussion protocol, helmet-to-helmet contact, according to many studies, is the most dangerous in the sport and continues to be a problem in high school football.
Cosbie has been working with USA football to teach coaches the heads-up technique at the grassroots level. This off-season, two 8-hour workshops designated toward player safety hit tackling technique hard.
“A lot of it is knowing that there’s a way to make the game safer and still make it entertaining for fans,” he said.
Those who think removing the head from football would change the essence of the sport need look no further than Peters.
The former hard-hitting Chicago Bear and UH star has moved over to playing rugby for the United States national team. There, he learned that form tackling in a fast and violent game is possible without using his future as a weapon.
Cosbie, who still employs one of the most physical teams in the state, is hoping USA football’s message will continue to take hold with youth coaches so America’s new past time can continue to thrive.