PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — From concerns over safety to fewer students getting to play, leaders of youth football decide it’s time to change the game.
“Anything to make the game safer is a plus,” said Linda Carter of Glassboro, New Jersey.
“You have to protect the child first,” added Phyllis Wood of Washington Township.
As part of a pilot program, USA Football will change several rules in a small number of leagues for kids ages 5-14. Then, determine which adjustments should be made nationwide.
“I think some attempt needs to be made,” said Dr. Michael Falcone, a sports injury specialist, who has treated youth concussions.
He agrees with most of the changes, including a smaller playing field featuring seven players, instead of eleven.
“It will make it more of a skills game, rather than an impact game,” said Falcone.
Kick-offs and punts will be eliminated, along with special teams.
Falcone said, “You see the largest impacts on kickoff and punts.”
“Eh that’s part of football,” said Carter.
“If there are a lot of injuries in that, then why not?” Countered Chris Bialecki of Woodstown, New Jersey.
The three-point stance could also become a thing of the past.
“It would probably eliminate a lot of kids hitting with their head,” said Falcone.
Other changes include mandated position rotations and players of equal size.
Falcone believes both are well intentioned, but may not be practical and while he supports any changes that have an end goal of safety, others hope officials don’t go too far.
“I like the game the way it is at the professional level, so I don’t want them to diminish that and still give kids the chance to learn at the high school level,” said Bialecki.