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Pop Warner gets rid of kickoffs for younger kids

By
The Sports Xchange
Young pee-wee football players have little interest for the St. Louis Rams cheerleader standing in front of them as they wait to play during halftime of the San Francisco 49ers - St. Louis Rams football game at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. UPI/Bill Greenblatt
Young pee-wee football players have little interest for the St. Louis Rams cheerleader standing in front of them as they wait to play during halftime of the San Francisco 49ers - St. Louis Rams football game at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. UPI/Bill Greenblatt | License Photo

While the concussion debate rages on in football, the lowest level of the sport is trying to be proactive to find a solution.

On Thursday, Pop Warner announced that it was eliminating kickoffs for some youth league levels of competition in the interest of safety.

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The ball will be placed at the 35-yard line at the start of each half and after scores in the Tiny Mite, Mitey Mite and Junior Pee Wee levels for 5- to 10-year-old players.

"We are constantly working to make the game safer and better for our young athletes, and we think this move is an important step in that direction," Pop Warner executive director Jon Butler said in a statement. "Eliminating kickoffs at this level adds another layer of safety without changing the nature of this great game. We are excited to look at the results at the end of the year as we explore additional measures."

Pop Warner also will review its policies for older children during the 2016 season.

Contact drills during practice also will be reduced from 33 percent of practice time to 25 percent. Pop Warner previously eliminated tackling drills from more than 3 yards apart and instituted the Heads Up tackling program to teach proper technique.

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Pop Warner has faced several lawsuits recently related to deaths attributed to contact in football.

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