Magazine article USA TODAY

New "Spearing" Rule for College Football

Magazine article USA TODAY

New "Spearing" Rule for College Football

Article excerpt

A large number of serious spinal and head traumas, coupled with a lack of penalty-calling by referees, has resulted in tougher restrictions concerning the use of helmets in NCAA games.

According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association's 2005 Football Rules and Interpretations: "No player shall use his helmet (including the face mask) to butt or ram an opponent or attempt to punish him. There shall be no spearing. No player shall strike a runner with the crown or the top of his helmet...."

"The spearing [regulations] were revised to help prevent head and neck injuries," says Ron Courson, director of Sports Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, who headed the 32-member task force that helped bring about the rule change. The task force was composed of physicians, athletic trainers, coaches, researchers, football officials, and administrators from the NCAA, National Athletic Trainers' Association, Dallas, and other governing bodies.

"We want players to be aware of the dangers of head-down contact and spearing, which can cause catastrophic cervical spine and head injuries," cautions Courson, who also chairs NATA's College/University Athletic Trainers' Committee. "Each time a player initiates contact with his head down, he risks quadriplegia. Each time a player initiates contact head first, he increases the risk of concussion."

Since 1984, there have been 94 cerebral injuries with incomplete recovery, reports the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, Chapel Hill, N. …

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