"Guys are bigger, stronger, faster. The game's played at a faster pace."
Call it evolution, call it progression, call it what you want but there's no denying athletics has changed. From the way we prepare to the way we play, but have some sports become too violent? Are some sports in danger of becoming a thing of the past? Some say changes must be made.
Pop Warner Football Coach Devin Warmack says, "I don't think you can drastically change football, but you just have to implement the punishments, repeat offenders that do it, that lead with the crown of their helmet. That tend to go out and wreak havoc purposely. But I don't think you can drastically change football, I don't think it would be fair to football....it's a gladiator sport...it's a contact sport."
It's been described by some as football on ice. Unmatched speeds combined with bone crushing hits is a formidable combination. And many believe the sport of hockey is too dangerous. But the sport is aware and showing its willingness to adapt.
Utica College Men's Ice Hockey Head Coach Gary Heenan says, "You used to coach, you know go out there a clean a guy out. And now you just can't do that. I mean it's against the rules, it's a 5 minute major penalty and your team will be losing at the end of that 5 minute penalty. Is it a serious problem? No question about it. Are we getting a step ahead and trying to do it before it's a huge crisis? Yeah, I think we are at the NCAA level, for sure."
No helmet can prevent a concussion. However, manufacturers are making improving as we learn more. But more importantly leagues at every level are changing rules with player safety as the focus.
Utica College Head Athletic Trainer Dan Shuffer says, "I think we're adapting well, I think that we have a keen eye as to where the problems are. And like I said you see that a lot with a rule change that will come out and you've seen that a lot with equipment changes."
Head Football Coach at Utica College Blaise Faggiano says, "I think it's being more reported today than it was, so we're more educated about concussions, technology's better and I think that makes our sport better. You know so I look at that as a...the issues we're seeing with concussions as an opportunity to improve our sport and make it better."
The heads up football program is a grass-roots effort to make the sport safer. It's a new approach to tackling and many hope a way to help save the inherently violent sport.
Warmack added tonight, "During our practices we have a certain amount of time we do have contact. Maybe a quarter of your practice you have contact. Technique tackling, heads up tackling. You know what we're really concentrating on that, I know I am and I know a lot of other teams in Tri-Valley are doing the same thing."
By addressing the problem at its lowest level, the world of athletics can ensure the future is bright. Shuffer added, "We are learning more, we're learning more all the time and that's helpful...that's going to shape tomorrow."