Website Manager


Heads Up Football

Football and Safety

There is a lot of news these days about safety in youth football. What many new outlets are not covering is how youth football has adapted and changed to make the game safer.

The San Diego Union Tribune recently did a commentary by Phillip Lomax that we wanted to share with you to help you see both sides of the story. 

How youth football adapted, improved to survive


San Diego Youth Football along with Palomar Pop Warner and San Diego Pop Warner were some of this country’s most successful and storied football organizations. In fact, San Diego football has produced four Heisman Trophy winners and numerous all-pro players spanning more than half a century. When you look at the organizations, it is easy to understand why.

These great youth sports groups with a sense of community were run by amazing coaches intent on developing the character and shaping the futures of young men and women. These organizations used American football to instill toughness, confidence and self-discipline in the young people placed in their care. Families came out en masse to participate because no other sport related to mainstream America the way football did. We watched it Friday night and all day Saturday and Sunday and then again on Monday night.

Most kids in America dreamed of the day they could put on a helmet and shoulder pads and compete like a modern-day gladiator on the field of battle with their classmates and neighbors against some other rival community.

Then, in 2012, everything changed. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and the long-term effects of concussions began to hit the mainstream and parents were afraid. In particular, the San Diego community was afraid because we had lost one of our own, Junior Seau, to a battle with the concussions and brain injury. The reaction was swift. Parents were pulling their kids out of football, especially tackle football.

A lot has happened in the five years since then. American Youth Football has seen a resurgence in participation and kids are playing tackle football again. USA Football, which was originally endowed by the NFL and NFL Players Association in 2002, has become a leader in safety and training for organizations and coaches. The fear that fueled parents to keep their kids out of football has been replaced with information. Information from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the British Journal for Sports Medicine shows that individuals are more likely to suffer a concussion riding a bike or playing rugby and girls soccer than tackle football. This same information and research has not only improved the safety of the above-mentioned sports but led to safer practices and equipment for tackle football.

We all needed to become more aware of the effects of concussions not just in football but everywhere. The implications of concussions and TBI needed to be brought to the forefront in order for real change to take place. The change that has been brought about in the game because of this information is felt from the NFL all the way down to the smallest 5-year-old playing.

The game is safer today than it has ever been. Parents are equipped with more knowledge and our kids are equipped with state of the art equipment that is better than ever! Youth football and high school football in the state of California have implemented mandatory return to play protocols. There are restrictions on the amount of contact allowed at practices (practices produce about 47 percent of youth sport concussions). We are more aware of concussions and better prepared to handle them now than we were in the past. Changes were also taking place nationally. The NFL, USA Football and other organizations like Pop Warner, American Youth Football, the CDC and NFLPA were working on ways to improve the education of coaches around the country. They helped to get rid of antiquated ideas about contact and tackling and replace them with better, safer approaches to playing our game. Safety-certified coaches are using better techniques to teach the youth athlete.

It was necessary that we improve. Football had to get better and safer to survive, and football had to survive. It had to survive because nothing promotes a sense of community pride like youth football does. It had to survive because no other sport can develop sportsmanship, teamwork, mental and physical fortitude, and self-esteem in the same way youth football can. Youth football is coming back in force because few sports prepare young men and women for life the way it does.

When football was under attack, we did what football people always do when things get difficult: We didn’t run or make excuses; we adapted, and improved; we tightened chinstraps and lined up in the trenches to fight. That is why this country loves football, that is why I love football and that is why football has returned better than ever!

Lomax has been a youth and high school football coach for 20 years. He currently teaches and coaches at Mira Mesa High School. He was previously commissioner of San Diego Youth Football and served on the USA Football advisory panel for youth football. He retired from the U.S. Navy after 22 years of service.

Original story at

Have Your Voice Heard

Have you heard? California could become the first state to BAN organized youth tackle football with the newly-presented "Safe Youth Football Act". 

Under this bill, young athletes (ages 5-14) would be banned from participating in tackle football until reaching freshman year of high school.

What can you do to have your voice heard? Reach out to city and state officials! A quick phone call or email stating your opposition to this new legislation will go a long way. You can also join thousands of others and sign the petition to #SaveYouthFootball here:

Take a stand and take action!

Football Parent Guide

USA Football has a great resource for parents of football players. If you are new to the sport, this guide will help you understand your role for game day and how to help your player succeed!

Featuring articles on:

  • What to put in your first aid kit
  • How to keep your player hydrated
  • Healthy in-game snacks
  • How to treat common sports injuries
Copyright © 2020 Inland Valley Hurricanes  |  Privacy Policy |  Terms of Use  |  License Agreement |  Children's Privacy Policy  Log In