Concussion concerns cause drop in Eau Claire youth football numb - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Concussion concerns cause drop in Eau Claire youth football numbers

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 Eau Claire (WQOW) - Concussions in football have been the topic of increasing awareness and safety measures all the way from the NFL down to Pop Warner.

The new awareness has a downside, it has brought a decrease in participation in youth football.

"This year we’re down 10 percent,” said YMCA player safety coach Bobby Diaz.

That's the drop in participation for both the Northwest Wisconsin Champions flag football league and the YMCA tackle league

"Nationwide it's down ten percent too so there's a big concern," Diaz said.

That drop is being attributed to concerns over concussions.

"Sometimes the younger players see the NFL guys go back into the game after taking a big hit,” said Angela Oldenberg a Nurse Practitioner at Mayo Clinic Health System’s Concussion Clinic. “The rules are different for high school and youth they need to be taken out of the game."

The downward trend is something that leaders at the youth level are trying to reverse.

"There’s a curriculum that they're using now,” said Diaz. “I think it's going to trickle up and go with them as they move up and I think it will change the culture of how we play football"

While the youth game is being penalized for unnecessary roughness by losing ten percent, high school coaches we spoke with haven't seen much of a difference.

"We’ve actually seen an increase in numbers at North High School at least over the last couple years,” said Josh Fizel Eau Claire North’s Head Coach.

As more research is done the game continually adapts hoping to alleviate worries.

“The equipment our kids are wearing from the helmets to the shoulder pad is so much more advanced it's really doing a wonderful job of keeping our kids safe,” Fizel said.

Mayo Clinic Health System's Concussion Clinic sees 3 to 5 new concussion patients every week during the football season.

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