BOISE -- As many coaches are seeing nationwide, leaders of local youth football are seeing a decrease in players that they attribute to concussion concerns. Now, Optimist Youth Football is working to get parents involved in safety to help ease concerns and provide another set of trained eyes on the field.
"Nationwide, youth football is down between 7 and 10 percent across the entire country. Most everybody agrees like we do that it's a direct correlation between concussions and issues that are out there about 'is youth football safe?'" Jerron Moore, Optimist Youth Football Director of Coaching and Player Safety, said
A couple months ago as signups were going on for the upcoming season, Moore was concerned with their numbers and hoping for more kids to register. Because of national data and KTVB's concussion reporting, they had replaced hundreds of helmets, talked about their training, and hoped those things would help ease concerns.
But with registration now closed, Moore says safety concerns from parents have likely driven a year of reduced numbers; they've had a 6-percent decrease from last year, which equates to losing 200-250 players.
In addition to coaches training on the latest techniques with national safety experts, Optimist Youth Football is now hosting a training day for parents of current players and parents who are simply interested in football safety.
"We're going to get the parents down on the field, and we're going to actually show them what the drills should look like, what proper training should be and try to get them to be another set of eyes. They should know what a good practice should look like," Moore said.
The training day will also include tips from sports medicine specialists and advice on proper helmet fit from manufacturers.
"It's a real chance for the parents to become a part of the program and help us make it even safer," Moore said.
Olympic gold-medalist Kristin Armstrong will talk about sports safety as both a mother and athlete. Boise State University Head Football Coach Bryan Harsin will also be there to speak.
"Bryan actually went through this program, his dad coached him in this program, so he's what we call an alumni. Bryan's going to come over and talk about his experiences in how football needs to be continued safe and things parents should look for in a football program," Moore said.
Optimist Youth Football is inviting any parents and their kids to attend the training day to hear about football and concussion safety.
The training day is Saturday, August 2 at Bishop Kelly's football stadium from 8:30 until 10:30 a.m. Check-in begins at 8:00 a.m.