The WIAA voted unanimously Thursday to enact new player contact rules to address the dangers of head injuries in high school football practices.
"There's a lot of kids where parents are probably shying away from football a little bit, with all the negative publicity with concussions and the NFL lawsuit and all that," said Onalaska Football Coach Tom Yashinsky. "Hopefully this shows that we're taking steps to make sure that we keep the game as safe as we can."
During the meeting in Stevens Point, the Board of Control ruled player on player contact was defined into five types: air, bags, wrap, thud, and live/full. The five types were then divided into two categories: Drill (air, bags, and wrap) contact and Competition/Full (thud and live/full) contact.
Drill contact is unlimited during the practices. However, Competition/Full contact is prohibited the first week of practice. Then, it is now limited to a combined 75 minutes the second week of practice, and 60 minutes the third week of practice and beyond. The restrictions do not include games or scrimmages.
"In week three and beyond, it will be 60 minutes and [over] three days, that's 20 minutes of full speed. Not many coaches do that. At least a good coach doesn't do that because you don't want to lose your kid in practice," said WIAA Deputy Director Wade Labecki.
The regulations will take effect this fall.
"I knew it would be coming down sooner or later. I was a little surprised it happened this quick," said Yashinsky. "But I don't think it's going to be a big game-changer in terms of how most teams run practice."