MCLEAN COUNTY, Ill. — The high school football season starts in just two weeks and players are out on the fields getting ready for another season of Friday night lights.
Staying healthy is priority and this year, so the IHSA has a new rule in place that would limit the amount of hitting a player can take each week.
Leaders say the change comes after years of studying the impact consecutive days of hitting does to a player.
“Players will be limited, in a week, to two games and not allowed to play back-to-back football games,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson.
Players will now have to have a day of rest before playing in their next contest. Anderson says the change was recommended by the Association’s, Sports Medicine Advisory Group.
“There’s a belief that the multiple and more occasional sub-concussive hits, so the hits that may not cause a concussion immediately,” said Anderson. “Many of those hits time and time again may lead to some medical issues in the future.”
The change won’t affect big schools whose program consists of 90+ players, but for smaller schools having to rest players might be hard.
“I told them, it’s going to hurt the small schools because we only have so many players that can play,” said University High Head Football Coach, John Johnson. “We gotta make due with it, it’s going to be tough with a smaller team smaller school, smaller enrollment, I think those teams are going to be hurt by it.”
U-HIGH has about 50 kids in their program, Johnson says the new change could hinder their team, but safety for players is more important.
“We had guys playing Friday and Saturday and it wore us down by the end of the season,” said Johnson. “It hurt injury wise, it was tough last year for us, so this is a good rule for us.”
IHSA leaders say because this is the first year of the rule, they will closely monitor it and at the end of the season they will explore any changes if necessary.