Parents, Coaches Support New California Law Limiting Full-Contact Football Practices

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NORTH HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA.com) — Gov. Jerry Brown signed new legislation Monday that limits the number of full-contact practices for middle school and high school football teams to two per week during their regular seasons.

Additionally, the bill prohibits teams from holding full-contact practices during off-season.

Bill 2127, introduced by Assemblyman Ken Cooly, D-Rancho Cordova, comes amid escalating concern over brain injuries and their relation to football. The bill also adds new guidelines for how to medically treat a teenager with a concussion.

Parent Claudia Gotoh has experienced the worst-case scenario associated with full contact on the football field in the past, and she fears its possibility for the future.

Gotoh lost her son, Vinnie Rodriguez, 16, in 2008 after the teen took a hit to the head while playing in a high school football game.

Rodriguez died two days after the hit.

“He was going for a tackle, and then he hit the knee of the other kid,” Gotoh recalled. “He fell, got up and walked off the field, sat on the bench, and then he just went into a seizure.”

Now, Gotoh’s other son, Hirro, plays football at North Hollywood High School.

Both Gotoh and her son say that they support the new measured laid out by the Legislature.

“My brother had a brain hemorrhage, and he died on the football field,” Rodriguez said. “These head injuries are really destroying these kids.”

While North Hollywood High Head Coach Carlos Trujillo says the new law means big changes to the game, he suggests that the changes or ultimately for the sport’s benefit.

“It’s substantially different, because now there is so much more precaution going on,” Trujillo said. “You used to be able to get a doctor’s note clearance, and then (the player) was cleared to come back to practice. Now it’s a doctor’s note, and then a week after. Following a week, then he’s allowed to come back to practice.”

Gotoh says that while the new precautions may slow a player’s return to the game, the prospect of safety supersedes any motive to put the helmet and pads back on too early.

“I totally agree on that,” Gotoh said of the protocol requiring a mandatory break from practice. “You want to get checked right away and have anything possible to help the child.”

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