Less than a month from the first game of the season, coaches from the Granger Rocket Football League gathered Tuesday to talk about the sport. Not about plays or strategy, but about safety.
"There's a lot of emphasis on concussions and trying to prevent them and the treatment of them, so what better place to start than at our level,” said league president Randy Schneider.
Concussions are a hot topic among athletes right now. The serious head injury is prompting lawsuits by former professional players and is being blamed for several recent deaths. Sports leagues and even some governments have taken action to recognize the injury and prevent it.
About 500 kids, ages 9 to 12, put on the pads and helmets each year in Granger. They might not hit as hard as the professionals, but the risk is still there.
"We don't see it that often at this level, but we just want to make sure that we're prepared so we can educate the coaches, the parents and the players," said Schneider.
In recent years all four major sports leagues in the US have created league-wide concussion policies.
NFL rules have changed dramatically the past few years and Major League Baseball implemented its first ever concussion policy last year.
A new Indiana state law, specifically about concussions, went into effect this month. it sets new rules that high school athletes, coaches and parents must follow. The law doesn't apply to rocket football, so the coaches have taken it upon themselves to learn more about the injury and make sure that everyone stays safe.
At a Rocket League meeting, Dr. Stephen Simons, director of sports medicine at Staint Joseph Regional Medical Center, explained to coaches how to recognize concussion symptoms and how important immediate treatment can be.
"We want the sport to continue and we want the sport to continue safely," said Simons.
While athletes at the end of their careers are talking about the effect concussions have had on their lives, a new generation of all-stars is taking the field. And while those young players may be focused on the game their coaches and parents have a new focus in mind.
"If we can make it safer and we can educate our players and our coaches, you know, I think it's a no brainer," said Schneider.The 2012 Granger Rocket Football Season starts Aug. 11.