Ivy League Moves to Eliminate Tackling at Football Practices

The aggressive measure would eliminate full-contact practices during the regular season as a way to avert concussions and other injuries in the sport.

Comments: 219

  1. When Steve Logan coached East Carolina University for 11 years he limited full contact tackling. Most practices had the boys out there in helmets and shorts and he made them run constantly. Logan said he learned that from his time coaching in the NFL. He wasn't thinking about head injuries, just all injuries. Even so, come came time, the contact begins.

  2. If a sport is too dangerous to practice, isn't it too dangerous to play?

  3. @An Observer

    No moreso than racing motorcycles or skydiving or mountain climbing or horse racing or any other number of risky activities that are dangerous but legal. We make those activities as safe as possible. Same thing with football.

    Class dismissed, and thanks for playing.

  4. And so it begins.

    About time.

  5. Three cheers for the Ivy League! Other leagues, such as the Patriot League, should follow and scheduling games against non-Ivy opponents should require adherence to the same standard.

  6. While I'm not sure this deserved the "Breaking" red text it received on the front page, this seems like a pretty sensible decision.

  7. Isn't this a tacit admission that the sport is simply not safe?

  8. @ ldc — Rationally, this is consistent with an understanding that the sport can be risky, and can be made less so by steps that mitigate the risks.

    Assuming that we don’t demand that all human activities be risk-free, the pertinent question is whether the risk is acceptable, for the rewards a given activity offers.

    — Brian

  9. I think this is great news for the players and their families. It has been surprising to see that in the face of so much research that points to the fact that the human brain can't take a pounding, that someone in a leadership position (ivy league schools) is doing something to make the game safer. I am sure that anyone who has endured the tragic demise of a CTE victim (our most athletic humans), would be applauding this decision.

  10. Good first step ... next ? Switch to soccer.

  11. Men and women get concussions all the time in soccer. It's not the sport you are thinking of, which is frisbee tag.

  12. Soccer players dont die at 59

  13. you're completely out of touch

  14. The Ivy League clearly cares about the brains inside those heads. It will be fascinating to see if all the other college leagues do as well...

  15. *cares a little bit. (there is no way to play american football and not suffer brain injuries.)

  16. Don't hold your breath.

  17. As with many issues (including those that are divisive, such as climate change,) the best advice is " follow the data." Thank you to the Ivy League, eight institutions which place an across-the- board value on research and science, for allowing data to inform your decision-making.

  18. the best advice is " follow the data"
    What data would you be referring to? I would be very interested in seeing a study that shows failing to have players practice the correct methods to tackle an unpredictably moving opponent actually reduces injury.

    The volume of comments here who seem to think football is all about head to head contact shows just how little knowledge the NY Times readership actually has of the game.

  19. @ Norm — I’m a NY Times reader, who has a pretty fair understanding of the game of football; I earned Academic All-America recognition playing offensive line in college football (out near you in the Pacific Northwest), and was a pro draftee.

    And from that knowledgeable perspective, I see ellen’s comment as cogently based, and yours as evasive. You ask what data she’s referring to? Well, if you read the article, you would have found the following:

    “Research has shown that limiting the amount of full-contact practices can reduce the number of concussions.”

    “The research on limiting full contact in practice ‘all shows that you not only have fewer subconcussive hits, but also concussions,’ said Dr. Robert Cantu, the co-director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at the Boston University School of Medicine and the medical director of the Concussion Legacy Foundation. ‘It’s not rocket science.’ ”

    The Dartmouth coach, Buddy Teevens’s, restrictions on full contact in practice has greatly reduced not only concussions, but neck, back, and shoulder injuries.

    “From a medical perspective, the benefits have been unequivocal.” A U. of Wisconsin found that a statewide high school rule, implemented in 2014 that sharply restricted full contact, reduced the rate of concussions by about half.

    The data are all right there, in your face. The only rational question is, why are you denying them?

    — Brian

  20. Every single hit TO the Head and WITH the Head in College and the NFL must be flagged by officials. Too many of these hits go unchecked. This is the only path to drastically reducing concussions.

  21. They might as well convert practices to meetings where they sit around and discuss how they would play. That would to very safe. Then they could change the games to debates where the two teams would discuss how they would play and the refs could rule on how much each team would advance the ball.

  22. Yeah, yeah and the players are soft today, right? Dick Butkus and Joe Greene wouldn't even make a roster in today's game. Speed. Cam Newton is bigger and faster than any player that played in SB 1. Look it up. Players are so big and fast today that the collisions are more violent than ever.

  23. So basically like Chase and Go where people with brain already play

  24. @ Pat — Your comment is silly in the extreme. One could say many things about it, but it will suffice to note that another coach who did away with tackling in practice was the legendary John Gagliardi of St. John’s, in Minnesota. Indeed, his St. John’s players always wore shorts or sweats at practice, and did not even use blocking sleds or dummies in practice. And yet, Gagliardi is by far the “winningest” coach in college football history, with a career record of 489–138–11 (.775), and four national championships.

    And “Johnnies” teams didn’t form debating societies. They played football, and played it very hard and very well. In this matter, it makes a lot of sense to look to Gagliardi for wisdom. Clearly, it would make no sense to look to you.

    — Brian

  25. OK, so I see most of you never had to tackle a 220# running back. Tackling is definitely a skill and if you do it badly you can break your neck. I'm not sure about this rule. I think maybe a limited amount should be done in practice to keep players sharp.

    I like college football, and I definitely think tackling should be done without leading with the head.

  26. I agree with this comment that tackling safely is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced. I'm not a football fan, and I certainly think danger from concussions needs to be dealt with, but my intuition tells me that not tackling in practice could lead to dangerous incidents in games.

  27. @ Ryan and ab — The players have been tackling for years; they’re not trying to pick up a new skill. As noted below, the legendary St. John’s coach, John Gagliardi, coached college football for 64 years, and did not permit his players to tackle in practice. (They wore shorts or sweats at practice, so •couldn’t• tackle.) By your reasoning, his teams should have experienced a raft of broken necks and other injuries. But nothing of the sort happened.

    Coaches with experience are working out these reforms; their thinking on this matter merits close attention. Your ill-informed speculation on the issue does not.

    — Brian

  28. Banning tackling at practices and thus reducing the opportunities for brain trauma certainly can't hurt, and may even help. But is there any reason to think it will help enough? (Whatever "enough" means in the context of helping young men avoid early disability and death...?)

  29. St. Johns in Minnesota has been doing this for decades. Most concussions happen during practice, hope this trend continues. Removing protective gear and playing like rugby would also decrease concussion frequency.

  30. They haven't been tackling at practice and yet they still have the granite of NH in their muscles and their brains.

    Go Dartmouth!

  31. Lets just cut to the chase and put flags on everyone. Why not? If that isn't acceptable, lets just all play Madden.

  32. Considering the resistance football leagues have historically had to these kinds of changes, I would consider this to be important and necessary progress.

  33. I believe some of those Columbia teams in the '80s banned tackling in games as well.

  34. An excellent move, that will hopefully inspire other programs. This does't decrease quality of play - in fact, it doesn't even eliminate concussions, though it lessens the risk - but finally puts front and center what we know about brain injury and its long-term repercussions, and seeks a way to address that. Bravo.

    I particularly appreciated this excerpt:

    Mr. Teevens said that contrary to some fears, his players have become better tacklers. Players still tackle from 500 to 800 times a year, but instead of launching themselves at other players in practice, they focus on how they tackle to avoid head collisions. The number of missed tackles in games has fallen by more than half, he said.

    “It hasn’t hurt our level of play,” he said. “It’s actually made us a better team.”

  35. This is meaningless lol

    No one tackles or goes full tilt during in season practices anyway. They are making a formal rule out of something that Ivy League schools (and most other programs including high schools and many NFL teams) have done for years.

    I can recall, at best, maybe 2-3 mid-season full contact drills after the Pee Wee level

  36. My office at UNC used to look out on the practice fields. I cannot recall ever looking out on full contact practices. My co-author on a book played football at Michigan. I thought that wha we did looked pretty soft and one day while we were at work on our joint endeavor, I asked him if we were conducting soft practices. He looked for a while and said that they looked much like what he had done at Michigan. He explained to me that too many injuries would result if full contact practices were conducted, Saturday games would belong to the team that did not injure its best players. It seems as if the Ivy League may be catching up where the big programs have been fir decades.

  37. Correct...for years "full go" has only been on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at every school in the country (assuming the standard Saturday game).

  38. This is fantastic news and a step in the right direction.

  39. It's nice to think that the Ivy League cares about the brains of its athletes, but more likely that it cares about its billions in endowments. It may take some time, but they will certainly eliminate the sport entirely, as will all private colleges and universities. Public football factories may be the last to fall, but once taxpayers start to see the judgments start coming in, so will they.

    And the NFL comes tumbling after.

  40. As they should. Now the actual schools that play football are not going away neither is the NFL. Your alternate reality must be very nice. And of course there are no "football factories".

  41. The endowments do not come because of the football programs at the Ivies. In fact, other than gifts to perpetuate intercollegiate athletic teams, very few gifts to University endowments are attributable to "successful" football programs. TV money Is something else. The universities, through their conferences and the NCAA are paid to provide TV entertainment, using highly paid mangers (coaches) and unpaid performers at risk for serious debilitating injury. Incredibly corrupt.

  42. And then when the play the game against other teams, they will sue the other team for battery and assault and not being nice.

  43. I applaud the Ivy League for taking this step to protect our rich, white, entitled young men from injury.

  44. Clearly, you're not very familiar with the make-up of Ivy League football teams.

  45. Have you actually ever been to an Ivy League football game?

  46. Sounds like you haven't seen an Ivy League football game in the last fifty years or so.

  47. Well it's not like Columbia ever won any games anyway, so why not at least try to preserve the brains?

  48. The likelihood of injury would be substantially reduced if tackle football as replaced by flag football. Many of the most dramatic football plays did not require tackling to happen. I submit that flag football would be at least as entertaining to watch and free of the feelings of guilt that we are watching people harmed and of the risk of players health and livelihood.

  49. It would be if you are watching 7 year olds. Tackling is a fundamental part of football. Players understand the risks, but submit because of their love the game. Sorry but a "bubble wrapped" version is a poor substitute. Maybe those kids(and their parents) should opt in for another sport.

  50. You can watch flag football for free in the park...you can even play it yourself with your kids...Why would you pay to see professionals do something you can do just as easily?

  51. I do recall a fellow law associate breaking a cheekbone during a touch football game when he collided face first with a female participant going for a pass. Very like some gruesome injuries I witnessed in pass coverage drills where two players went for a pass and collided. Let's not get too rhapsodized here over flag football safety and leather helmets. There is a risk and exposures can be calculated. The physical competition, for many of us, was an essential part of growing up.

  52. Just an observation. I played once upon a time. We had leather helmets made of sections stitched together, with a webbing that used the entire helmet to absorb the shock. -- We didn't have concussion issues until the sport went to hard plastic helmets.

  53. So if we just eliminate helmets.....

  54. This is the sign of a dying society. The NFL cuts full hitting in preseason and practices, yet overall concussions increase and they are flabbergasted as to why. In response the Ivy Leagues ban them in practice entirely. Taking hits is like any skill, the more you practice - without overdoing it - the better you get at it. Would it seem reasonable to ban using firearms during basic training before sending soldiers out to battle? The problem isn't how atheletes train or what medical procedures are required at the sidelines, nor how good retirement health plans are and how properly players are warned about the dangers of football.

    It's because every week a bunch of 250+ lb guys slam their heads into each other as hard as they can!! That is bad for your brain, how is that not painfully obvious!?!?!

    I like football, it is a smart game, but at some point people have to decide whether it is personally worth the damage to their health. Instead, here is a fantasy solution that wil make the problem worse and no one will believe they are accountable because everybody can claim ignorance. "I did things, not my fault!" "They told me acute pain all over my body was OK!"

  55. "It's because every week a bunch of 250+ lb guys slam their heads into each other as hard as they can!! That is bad for your brain, how is that not painfully obvious!?!?!"

    I played football growing up in the 80's (offensive and defensive tackle) We never slammed our heads into each other as hard as we could. Shoulders yes; heads no.

  56. They are not to slam their heads together. Helmet contact is illegal at all levels of play.

  57. I didn't say head to head, just head into body. It happens on pretty much every play in the NFL. NFL players seem more dismissive of their health than lower level players. In the NFL at least, these days it really seems like slam-as-hard-as-possible is ther goal. At least two or three games you see a play where a tackle builds up steam and strikes with his head like a battering ram.

    I don't think there is anything intrinsically dangerous about playing football, although there are certainly risks. One thing is for sure, giving and taking a hit requires skill and experiencd and cutting hitting from practice will only make games more dangeroius.

  58. Let's say I want to juggle flaming torches and chainsaws. That's a dangerous pursuit. So rather than simply stepping on stage the day of the performance and juggling chainsaws and flaming torches I should practice this dangerous activity first.

    Now I know what you're going to say: It's too dangerous, and that eliminating the practice will make it safer. After all, the less I juggle dangerous things the less chance I have of getting hurt. Statistically, I'm sure this is quite sound. I could do a study and confirm this to be sure.

    Or...
    I could just not juggle flaming torches and chainsaws. Ever.

    So there's a choice in the matter.

    But if I'm going to do something that's inherently dangerous, it might be a good idea to practice the dangerous part so that I don't hurt myself and others when the time comes to, you know, actually do it.

    Just a thought.

  59. What a cleaver and relevant analogy!
    Perhaps you are a former football player from Texas??

  60. I've never actually seen a whole football game, so I have no dog in this fight. But, when is your book coming out, because I want to, you know, read it. Omg, hahaha - you had me at flaming torches. Chainsaws were the icing on the cake. (I would be interested in the design of the statistical survey. You're not eliminating the behavior, simply reducing the frequency with which it is performed. Since the competence of high risk activities can be assumed to be predicated on the practice of a skill set, I’m not sure of the predictability of the outcome suggested in the article’s model.)

  61. I wonder if this will make a bigger impact in college football. The Ivy League, while well-known, isn't a terribly competitive league--Penn, Princeton, and Harvard aside. The Ivy League doesn't do post-season play and sends relatively few players to the NFL. While well-intentioned and a great start, this move may not have the impact that say, the Big 10 or SEC's decision to do something like this would have.

  62. Of course it won't, everyone knows that you need to practice to perform well. Now proper tackling is important and full contact practice should be limited as a lot of benefit can and is gotten by drills.

  63. Yale has sent many more players to med school, law school and Wall Street than to the NFL, but still there have been 40 Yale grads in the football pro's. It's up to the graduates to decide where they go but -- from personal experience -- thank the Ivy coaches that our team will never have a full scrimmage the Monday after a loss. Too many of us made that sacrifice for it to continue.

  64. Only the Best and The Brightest could come up with this plan.

  65. Sarcasm noted and appreciated. The leftists who long ago took over the Ivy League want to turn this nation into a nation of androgynous "its". The guys will all be sissies and the women butches. When the day comes and we face nations on the battlefield that still breed real men like Russia and Iran and so forth I wonder what will happen?

  66. Yeah, "rice," how the dare the rest of us want to protect ourselves from potentially deadly injuries.

    The nerve.

  67. The Ivy League offers no athletic scholarships, and now it bans tackling during practices. Though the brutality of college football has its origin in the Ivy's, they've moved in the right direction, and I hope they eventually end football programs altogether.

    Students' minds are for growing, not for turning to mush on the field. University endowments and NFL profits notwithstanding, gridiron barbarism has no place in education, nor in civilized society.

  68. They should just go to flag football that would be good and allow any real talent go to a real football school.

  69. Yes, vulcanalex - and then we wouldn't have to worry about damage to any great minds.

  70. Just get rid of it altogether.

    It's meaningless and injurious.

  71. Do you folks still have bullfighting over there? Do I recall correctly that in Portugal the "matador" fights the bull while on horse back?

    It should be one bull and one man. No weapons. No horses & no helpers tormenting the poor animal. I'd pay to watch that - a fair fight.

  72. Last time I checked Ivy League football programs don't give athletic scholarships and don't play in bowl games (two rules that, as far as I know, set the Ivy League apart from most D1 football conferences). Outside of the Yale Game, nobody pays to watch Harvard play football. I think anything that reduces injury is a good thing, although having played a little ball myself I have to agree with the comment that you can break your neck if you don't know how to tackle. But I don't expect no-tackle practices to catch on at schools for which football is a lucrative industry and players are unpaid workers.

    As a side note, I never got a concussion in my high school tackling drills but I did get one when a blocking sled fell on my head. I was told to shake it off, of course.

  73. A welcome move by the Ivies in terms of the long-term health of its athletes. But as others have already noted, this acknowledges that football is dangerous to players in the long-term, no? (Which the evidence of head-trauma and brain damage among pros seems to overwhelmingly support.)

    If so, why support this action institutionally? While it make provoke outrage and involve changes to the mind-set of many fans, wouldn't it be safer for the Ivies to end institutional football altogether? That would be a courageous, if controversial, stand in the the long-term health and interests of student.

  74. Living is dangerous. Soccer, riding a bike (no less a motorcycle), riding in a motor vehicle, running, walking, etc.

  75. The Ivies would not lose a nickel in endowment gifts or suffer any reduction of student applications if they dropped football altogether.

  76. If they ban tackling during practice because it's potentially dangerous, doesn't that argue that it should be banned during regular play too? Even one concussion can have bad "repercussions."

  77. Nope. Tackling is part of the game.

    So if you forego it in practice where - it may be argued* - it is not necessary, then it deceases the number of tackles and the overall risk to the players.

    It's not all or nothing. It's a matter of using statistics to decrease risk.

    *I don't know if tackling is unnecessary in practice. Unlike the rest of you, I'm no expert in football.

  78. There is nothing dumber than getting carried off the field with an injury or suffering a concussion in PRACTICE. In a practice, I was knocked out for the season when trying to recover another player's fumble as the second stringers all landed on top of me screaming and hollering and "showing how aggressive they were" for the coaches. Fortunately, I was taught by my coach and ordered by my father to never drive my helmet into the runner when making a tackle. Actually, at that time, the fear was suffering a broken neck and becoming a quadriplegic more than suffering a concussion.

  79. Well Gee all coaches should teach proper tackling. That is you must see what you tackle and use your arms. So the idea that spearing occurs on every play is foolish and incorrect.

  80. About time! Tackling is so undignified, and anyway it only gets in the way of scoring.

  81. I inadvertently turned on the Grey Cup, Canada's version of the "Super Bowl."

    The field is wider, and you only get three downs.

    But that wasn't what got my attention. The tackling that took place was almost all done below the waist. In other words, there wasn't any of the traditional spearing with the helmeted head - something that happens on virtually every "play" in the NFL.

    The CFL style was quaint, in a word, and reminded me of the tackle football games from the old neighbourhood - played in someone's side yard until one of the Moms stuck her head out the backdoor and yelled "Dinner!" at which point the game was over.

    The NFL has turned football into bloodsport. For a reason. They're pretty sure that Americans love violence. After all, it's on TV over night.

    Want to end the blood sport that is played in the NFL and at the D1 level? Just turn off the set. I did it years ago. Haven't missed it, and love having my Sundays back.

    You might try it.

  82. this is additional proof that we will soon see this sport disappear from middle and upper-middle class communities. In due time, it will be relegated to schools and neighborhoods that cannot as easily forgo the opportunities that flow from such a highly cherished American ritual

  83. See the ratings for the Super Bowl. Despite your mewling this will never happen in this country. People love football. Sorry you never played.

  84. I played Ivy League football, and still love the game....at its best it's a beautiful, poetic game, full of strategy and willpower and momentum. But unfortunately it's also a game which the human body wasn't designed for. That's a fact which can't be fixed without ruining the game. I'm not sure how to reconcile all of this.

  85. Flaco,

    Yours is a wise posting, and you're absolutely right. You can't make it safe without ruining the game. Curious: If you had it all to do over again, would you play? There's not a right or wrong answer to that question. I never played, but I am also a fan of Ivy football. It is a beautiful thing, much different--more genuine, I think--than big-time college sports.

  86. There's a reason why the Ivies get the quality students that they do.

  87. In soccer the culture and rules say you cannot touch the ball with your hands.
    The players never touch the ball with their hands.
    In football, American, why not have a strong rule heavily enforced and a culture to follow that says you cannot touch or use the head. Call it the 'heads up' rule...

  88. If young football players stop practicing one of the most essential skills required to win football games, the game of football will will begin an irreversible decline. I am by no means in favor of a head-banging sport that causes untold physical damage to its players. But the notion that you can turn a crocodile into a squirrel and still call it a crocodile is absolutely ridiculous.

  89. @ alansky — John Gagliardi, of St. John’s in Minnesota, coached college football for 64 years, and barred tackling in his practices. St. John’s football did •not• go into “an irreversible decline”; Gagliardi won almost 500 games in his career, and his teams captured four national championships. Clearly, experience shows that your speculation is baseless.

    — Brian

  90. I think the Ivies are taking a step in the right direction. Better yet, they have the most qualified researchers at their academic institutions who can evaluate the new rule to see what effect it has on players - research that will undoubtedly be used by other collegiate football programs around the U.S.

  91. If full body tackling is a bad idea during practice, it is a bad idea during a game. Rather than this "double standard", -- or the silly idea to do away with football -- why not allow grabbing above the waist while banning tackling above the waist?

  92. If they double the size of the helmet, making a soft exterior, then banned dangerous tackling, the problem would just go away.

    They need football players with bubble head helmets.

  93. How does anyone not practice for what is the elemental metaphor of what one does?

    Further along the path to flag football...

  94. Well Gee since they really don't play first rate football this will only set them back a little. I guess no blocking either at least not against actual players. Great move for them.

  95. There's a big difference between reducing the amount of "full-contact" practice and eliminating it altogether. Pilots use simulators to learn new control systems, brush up on existing skills, and practice scenarios too dangerous to risk life, limb and plane in. All good. But imagine if the only time pilots actually flew airplanes was when the cabin was full of passengers? Is that the best time to learn how to deal with real, not simulated, turbulence?

    The kids playing football at Dartmouth are probably a pretty smart bunch. Smart enough to know that tackling a "virtual mobile player" is nothing like tackling a real player, determined to run through you. Hopefully, they have longer-term goals on their mind than ever experiencing a winning season. On the plus side, there will be fewer injuries. What's the whole point of this exercise again?

  96. how are these players going to learn how to tackle so they do it with correct technique during actual games? How one practices is how one plays. Any coach will tell you.

    I think Ivy Leagues should get rid of football if they have this attitude.

  97. The Ivy League is already graduating wimpy kids who need '' safe spaces'' to protect their feelings. Now this? You must be joking?

  98. Having a healthy brain is so wimpy!

  99. Lol. Satire is at times not easy to discern.

  100. It's okay, Peter. Ask nicely and someone will explain to you why their brains matter to those wimpy Ivy Leaguers. And it's probably not too late! You could work on valuing critical thought and argument, too.

  101. I am not trying to be disrespectful, but why not have the Ivy league try to develop a more sophisticated flag football. With current technologies I would expect flags could be connected to signaling devices on a belt, and the precision of when and where the flag was disengaged could be high. With many of the rules protecting young people from head injury this might provide a new level of precision to a much safer experience, and would put an emphasis on athleticism that would be more precisely rewarded.

  102. That is a fantastic idea! I read in one of the comments "True, football traditions found some of the initial glory in Ivy League teams" - so maybe the Ivy League could be at the forefront of developing an alternate but similar game that would emphasize speed, agility and coordination over brute force.

  103. Dress 'em all like rugby players. You would likely see most of the injury problems go away over night. All those pads and the hard helmet give a false sense of security.

  104. I haven't responded in the past about this subject having a son who just finished his 4th season playing college football despite my fears for his safety. I just shared this article with him and he pointed out that his division doesn't tackle during practice either, never have in 4 years. I see other respondents who did have full contact during practice so I guess some schools do and others do not. That the Ivy League is taking the overall lead in this effort is a great metric, my sense is that most other Division 1 and Division 2 schools will continue the practice. I am just glad that my son made it through his years with just physical injuries but not a single concussive event.

  105. The Ivy League is a mediocre FCS conference, rated 15th out of about 25. The sport does not bring in revenue, and exists, pretty much to highlight rivalry games. This contrasts with lacrosse, which has championship-caliber teams, and basketball, where conference teams have done respectably in the NCAA tournament. Other sports where they are more competitive include squash, rowing, and swimming. Downgrading football does little harm to the program while it protects against substantial liability. No comparable changes are being made to any sport where the league is competitive. A cynical person might conclude that the policy is motivated by financial interest rather than the well-being of players. You don't think the Ivy League is financially shrewd, do you?

  106. And Yale won the national hockey championship the year before last.

  107. Whether Ivy League basketball teams have done "respectably" in the NCAA tournament depends on your definition of "respectable." There have been a few outliers, yes, but, by and large, it's one-and-done for Ivy teams in the tournament.

    As for whether Ivy League football exists to highlight rivalry games, it doesn't sound like you have been to many, if any, Ivy League football games. I have. Attendance, to be sure, is low for all but rivalry games, but attendance is still higher than for most of the sports you list. Ivy League athletics, including football, are about much more than money and attendance. The players, including the football players, play for the love of the game. There are no athletic scholarships. Academics take precedence over athletics, and so there are no mind-numbingly long practices that make it impossible for the players to find time to study. Ivy League football is, in short, everything that college athletics should be. The schools have absurd amounts of money in their endowments and don't much care whether football brings in money or not. They're not worried about liability. Ivy League football has nothing in common with the NFL or the way it's played at most Division 1 schools. No bowl games. Players don't gobble painkillers so they can play hurt and take steroids. The players are well coached and smart enough to know the risks. And you really think that it's all about the money?

    Please.

  108. Football should be eliminated in all high schools and colleges. We would never tolerate a workplace with similar levels of dangerous injuries.

    High schools and universities in most other advanced industrialized nations do quite well without sports teams. Educational institutions stick to the task of teaching. If students want to play a sport, they are free to join a local city league.

  109. "We would never tolerate a workplace with similar levels of dangerous injuries."

    Ever seen the stats on commercial fishing? Much, much more dangerous than playing football, but we allow it, and fish is very popular.

  110. More conferences should follow this Ivy League initiative. Minimize brain damage in every possible way. If I had a son, he would receive golf clubs on his birthday and a tennis racket at Xmas. No game is worth the risk of losing life, limb or mind.

  111. Four years in the band playing instruments, and watching players play high school football. Nasty sport, too many injuries. Why not try rugby?

    Nell in New Zealand now

  112. It is truly insane for Ivy League universities to have football programs in this day in age. I went to one and granted games were kind of a fun diversion, but let's not be coy - aside from one or two players a year (across all eight schools) no on else was going to the NFL. For those kids, their brains are all they have to make money in the future. And their needlessly scrambling them on a field for no reason.
    True, football traditions found some of the initial glory in Ivy League teams but I would argue that probably no more than 40 schools in the country should even have football teams at all.

  113. It is truly insane for someone in Houston to tell the Ivy Leagues what they should do and, furthermore, tell the best and brightest students in America what they should do.

    The problem here is that you don't seem to want to give people the freedom of choice to decide for themselves what they should do. Not even people who are way, way, way smarter than you are.

  114. People in Houston can't go to Ivy League schools? how do you know the writer you chastise did not go to an Ivy (or Stanford or MIT or some other great school)?

  115. What a weird view of the purpose of college football in the Ivies -- as a career choice, or mere preparation for the NFL.

  116. I wonder how many ivy league parents would be happy to know that about $10,000 of their annual tuition payment goes to support the athletic programs? Generally the athletes in these programs are not of the same academic character as the rest of the students, and are put into "athlete friendly classes" so they can get by. Of course there are spectacular exceptions to this. The ives have never been of the same caliber as other college athletic programs anyway, and its time these colleges stopped the athletic programs entirely, and focused on academics. This would go a long way towards placing the emphasis in college on academics and not athletics. After all, aren't colleges supposed to be places of higher learning?

  117. This is one of the least informed and discredited positions of all time. Ask the Ivies what sports do for their morale, recruiting and student experience. Think the parents who pay their tuition rarely care how it's spent? The degree you get from Harvard and Yale means the same to the world either way.

  118. Plenty would be OK with it. Competitive sports are deeply engrained in the ethos of these schools and the east coast Protestant elite that founded them. It used to be that if you wanted only academics you went to Chicago, not Harvard.

    Yes the character of the schools has changed, plenty of international students for instance who may not care, but sports matter to the alumni....the Harvard Yale game is always busy. Its not like the SEC where people with no connection to the university dominate the fan base, and it's more about keeping the donating alumni engaged with the school rather than TV revenue or ticket sales.

  119. How many Ivy guys in NFL? In real life, guys don't attend Ivy schools to prep for pro ball. The college gridiron elites--'Bama, Ohio St., LSU, Auburn, et al.--ain't gonna' do this. What they're doing--full contact all the time--is working--note the MONEY!--so why would they mess with it.

  120. Yes they will. The NCAA already has imposed substantial restrictions. So has the NFL. The restrictions will grow more stringent. And btw, football was invented in the Ivy League. The first game was Princeton vs. Rutgers, and Princeton vs. Yale and Princeton vs. Harvard followed right after. And it was mainly Ivy league schools (before they were called the Ivy League) that led the rule changes in response to Teddy Roosevelt's call about undue violence which led to the advent of the forward pass. So rule changes in the Ivy League have a long history of leading to rule changes nationwide.

  121. And so the dismantling of the most brutal mainstream sport continues. This warms the heart.

    Mamma don't let your children grow up to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

    Tennis anyone?

  122. The Ivy League is probably more concerned about potential lawsuits than it is about the health and safety of the players.

    Some of the best law schools in the nation exist on Ivy League campuses. The probability of one of their very own bringing a class action suit on behalf of former Ivy League football players is too great to ignore.

    Time for the Ivies to reduce football to the club level.

  123. @Garth,

    More concerned about lawsuits? Evidence, please. There is zero evidence of that. Anyone who would mistake what has happened in the NFL with what has happened and is happening in the Ivy League doesn't understand the issue, the game or the law.

  124. While I am not sure this will lead to fewer concussions during the season (I am assuming it will), the real solution is to teach correct tackling techniques, and institute rules and penalties that require correct tackling, including requiring the use of arms in tackling. Head or shoulder only tackles must be made illegal.

  125. If you read the article, Mike, you'd see that the evidence shows that it has led to fewer concussions at the places (like Dartmouth) that already banned full-contact practices.

  126. @Mike,

    Pretty clear you've never played football. The player who uses his arms to tackle is the player who ends up on the bench for missing tackles. It's called arm tackling, and it is not considered good form because it is not effective. No argument that leading with the head isn't cool. But you gotta get the shoulder into it, otherwise, the ball carrier will get away.

  127. Good for them. That's probably where the word college-athlete was coined as well. As the picture portrays: a bunch of privileged white kids trying to stay in shape playing flag football. If they want a real improvement, how about shutting down their football programs and sticking with fencing, rowing, tennis, and golf?! Let's be honest - these programs are irrelevant and serve only as a recruiting tool; the real competition is in the SEC where true American kids from middle of nowhere Alabama and inner city schools in Miami are trying to make it and support their families. For many of them football is the only chance to education and a career. Don't tell us what's safer. We know that. Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier, and Urban Meyer know that. But it's Football. Football starts and ends with tackling. Point.

  128. Eliminating full-contact hitting in practice may help reduce head injuries (e.g., concussions). But what consequences will the rest of the body have to endure?

    There's a long time between football games: usually a week. By eliminating tackling in practice (i.e., over the course of some 5 or 6 days) -- thus forcing players to "soften up" during that time period -- Ivy League officials may aid an increase, rather than decrease, in overall injuries.

  129. @ Ken — The experience of many teams over many years, at many levels of play, shows that your speculation is baseless.

    — Brian

  130. Actually, this makes a lot of sense. We all know how serious those head traumas are.

  131. Football is done for. The inevitable lawsuits are going to do to football what was done to the tobacco companies. From March-June we get high level basketball nearly every night (college tournament + NBA playoffs), if I'm going to care about watching any sport, I'd much rather care about watching those games instead, at least it's a less violent, destructive game.

  132. Bravo! (I'm an alumnus of two Ivy League schools.) While I was at Cornell the football team captain graduated first in his class in electrical engineering. Big time football is out of control at too many universities across the country. After being turned down by Tuland and LSU because of the "one drop" rule in the 1940s, Hillary Chollet came to Cornell, broke every Cornell running back record, got high grades and went on to medical school and a career as an outstanding doctor.

  133. Now, how on earth could a football player graduate first in his class, while majoring in electrical engineering, no less? Haven't you read all these comments proclaiming that football should be outlawed and that players shouldn't be allowed to decide for themselves whether to play football? Don't you understand that football is an evil, dangerous, terrible game that must be banned for the sake of humanity? Isn't it obvious that we should be playing tennis or flag football instead of--shudder--tackling a fellow human being?

    It is obvious that you are absolutely wrong in applauding what the Ivy League schools (and what do they know, anyway) have done to make football safer. Get with the program, Mr. Deeds, and just agree, regardless of facts, that anyone who plays football was enslaved by forces larger than himself and is doomed to a life of drooling and dementia. Football players can't become doctors or engineers or pilots. Everyone knows that. They are poor, hapless souls, gladiators in an arena filled with bloodthirsty fans who have no conscience. That is what everyone is saying, so it must be true.

  134. From what I heard, the problem with this measure is that, by the time a boy reaches college it's already too late, since he already suffered many concussions from pee wee to high school.

  135. Hopefully this leadership position will bring others along with it, and eventually the brutality of the NFL will be shunned all around. One can dream...

  136. I guess I'm a dissenting voice here in that I don't see the wisdom in banning tackling in practice if you're going to continue playing the games. This means that the first time players will be exposed to hard contact will be in the games themselves where they will not have been prepared to handle it. The hits are always harder in actual games than they are in practice but now these players will not have been conditioned for it at all. I understand the argument that at least the frequency of hits will be reduced but it still seems to me that if you're going to play football at the collegiate level, you either have to be prepared for it at the utmost or don't play at all. Half measures like this could cause more harm than good.

  137. @ Rebel — Again, the evidence of the experience of teams that don’t allow tackling in practice, is that they handle the hits and the tackling just fine when it comes to the games. Follow the evidence, not your imagination.

    — Brian

  138. This is a step in the right direction. For an institution of higher education to promote a brain-damaging sport like football is like Walgreens selling cigarettes and booze: more than a tad hypocritical and motivated entirely by greed.

  139. Good plan. Then they will be well prepared to evade and absorb tackles in real games.

  140. If Donald Trump gets elected we may see at law that requires brutal head to head contact in football. No kidding. He is in record saying that America is a soft country because football players won't bash their brains out.

    From Washington Post with video (from the man's own mouth)
    Donald Trump: NFL ‘football has become soft like our country has become soft’

  141. Football is a tough sport. Players know that. And they know there is always a chance of injury and life-long effects. Ask a few ex-major college or professional players if the knee replacement or chronic back pain are worth it. 100% of the guys I have talked to say yes, absolutely, they would do it again. I'd be curious to hear from the Ivy players. Not their parents, not the professors, not the administration.

  142. Teams that don't hit during practice play scared during games. Besides being a losing strategy, this may make players more vulnerable when facing a real opponent.

  143. @ Carl — That is nonsense. There are many teams that don’t tackle in practice, and some don’t even hit blocking sleds or dummies. They do just fine in games, and their players are no more vulnerable against actual opponents than are those of teams that have full-collision practices.

    — Brian

  144. They have tackling in the Ivy League? Huh! Who knew??? ;-)

  145. Once again, the crowd of anti-football commenters roils on, screaming about brain damage and how we should ban football and what a terrible, awful thing it is that football is legal in this country.

    I would encourage everyone who is saying such things to view the recent "30 For 30" documentary on the 1985 Chicago Bears. The film and its subjects dealt head-on with the issue of brain damage, from the suicide of Dave Duerson, who suffered from CTE, to the ongoing struggles of Jim McMahon. Several players were asked whether they would do it over again, knowing what they know now, and they all said yes, including Yale product Gary Fencik. They all said they would do it over again, knowing full well the risks of brain damage, and, speaking for their teammates, they said they were confident that everyone who was in that locker room would do it again. They teared up when they spoke about that season, that team and the effect it had on their lives, and not just financially.

    The story here is about an effort to make football as safe as possible, and we should applaud that. Of course, it can never be made entirely safe. But enough already with the holier-than-thou-let's-play-tennis stuff. My guess is, the people who are saying that never played football or got cut from the team.

  146. The problem isnt the professionals who get well compensated (for the most part, if you ignore fringe roster guys and practice squadders), as they make up maybe 0.1% of all football players. The problem is the health of pee wee and pop warner players, middle school and high school players, and college players.

  147. So, they would do it all over again, would they? The world is full of heroin addicts who voluntarily ingest a drug that will surely ruin their lives and destroy their families and potentially kill them. Either way, it's all about bread and circuses.

  148. Larry and Ami,

    The players themselves know better then anyone whether they would do it again. To them, it was about more than money--that's what they said. If it was only about money, there wouldn't be any Ivy League teams or Pop Warner teams, etc. The truth of the matter is, football is fun. People who play football enjoy playing football. Otherwise, they would not do it. Why can't football haters seem to understand or acknowledge this?

    I don't get the heroin comparison. At all. However, if you want to run with it, the little-acknowledged fact is, most people who try heroin do not get addicted. I don't know what that percentage is, but using heroin does not automatically mean that you will become an addict. With football, far fewer than 1 percent of NFL players, active and retired, have been found to have brain damage. That percentage will almost certainly increase as more studies are done, but the stone cold truth is, we have no idea the prevalence of brain damage in football players. The science/research isn't there, hasn't been done. Fewer than 100 NFL players have been diagnosed with CTE after death, and those were folks who exhibited symptoms and so it has been a self-selected sample.

    We need to survey retired players to help determine the prevalence, but no one has done that in any meaningful sense. Instead, we get people yipping about banning football with no hard science to justify banning a sport that people engage in knowing that it can be risky.

  149. Football is a game of bumperbrains.

  150. "We're talkin' bout practice, not a game, practice. I mean practice..." Allen Iverson was ahead of his time

  151. Why not just go to "flag" football? Then you could eliminate the need for helmets and padding. As an added benefit you could have girls on your team. LOL! And to think back in the 20's & 30' of the last century the Ivy League schools use to vie with Notre Dame and West Point as the best college team.

  152. If all the NCAA teams follow the Ivy League in not giving athletic scholarships, then it is to implement no contact practices. Schools are not the place to play first and learn if you can later.

  153. It's telling that few commenters here acknowledge that almost all Ivy League football players want to play football for the sake of playing the game. There are very few players at Yale or Harvard that actually think they'll make the NFL; they simply want to represent their schools on the gridiron. What's wrong with that?

    But given the Left's agenda of tacitly supporting quotas at the Oscars and arguing that it's racist for police to pull over African-Americans for broken tail lights, maybe Ivy League football programs should just accept the inevitable and and cancel football. But it'll be a shame that many minority student-athletes--and that's a term that is indeed legitimate at Ivy League schools-- won't be able to attend America's best universities once those football programs are abolished.

  154. So how does it make sense to play the game as it is played Saturday afternoons?

  155. It's about time.

  156. Two words: Flag Football. No concussions playing flag football!
    Flag football is a blast. We played it all the time in the fall in high school. Problem is, today's fans want to see and hear the big hits.

  157. When I was a kid, we played sandlot football. We tackled. We tackled hard. Occasionally, someone got hurt. It was a blast. We would have played flag football no sooner than we would have played tennis.

  158. This makes perfect sense for Ivy League schools, where I presume the term "student athlete" still rings true, that entry requirements remain high and academics a serious focus.

    Plus, Ivy League schools lose money on football anyway. Not exactly a huge motivation to beat up their students. Very few (very) ever make it to the NFL, so the athletic scholarship really is providing hope of a very expensive education at a reduced price.

    Contrast that with Alabama or an LSU, both of which recruit the #1 or #2 class of high school football players every year, each has over 40 players in the NFL (LSU had 53 on opening day 2015) and they play in the toughest football league in the US. I fully expect NOT to see them eliminate contact at practice.

    WR

  159. The Ivy League as a whole should lead by setting an example of banning tackle football. If there is a substantial demand, they can substitute flag football. These colleges have obviously tried to address the concussion and other injury problem with some piecemeal approaches. It's time they admitted the reality that tackle football is an inherently dangerous activity leading potentially to severe long term disability. The Ivies do not need football. With their enormous endowments they certainly do not need TV revenues, which must pale in comparison to the SEC or Big Ten schools. And they are in the unique position to lead. Everyone knows that Ivy League students are just flat out smarter on average than the rest of us. If they say they would like to protect their students' very capable brains, it means something. And if other schools do not follow suit, they are effectively saying that they do not care as much about protecting their students' somewhat less capable brains. That's going to look pretty bad.

  160. No good deed goes unpunished. Your comment and similar ones lambasting football and calling for a ban in reaction to this story are evidence of that. In spades.

  161. Ivy League and football...what an oxymoron.

  162. The Ivy League invented gridiron football. Get a grip.

  163. Chuck Bednarik (Penn), Sid Luckman (Columbia), Calvin Hill (Yale), Gary Fencik (Yale), Marcellus Wiley (Columbia), Jason Garrett (Princeton), Ed Marinaro (Cornell), Dick Jauron (Yale) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (Harvard), among many others, would disagree.

  164. In the Ivy League, football is a sport, a true sport played for the love of the game. It is not big business. It is filled with tradition and, yes, even chivalry. There is sportsmanship, but no athletic scholarships. There is, in short, everything that college sports should be, but rarely are.

  165. "Fight fiercely, Harvard, fight, fight, fight!
    Impress them with your prowess, do!" Tom Lehrer

  166. Can the football haters please stop with the over simplification of what we know about concussions and football. The level of misinformed opinions about this subject rivals the level of the misinformed who support Trump.

    1. Not all football players get concussions. Not all football players who get concussions develop CTE. We don't even know what the rate of CTE is among professional football players not to mention those who play at the high school level. Until we know all or more facts, please stop with the sweeping statements about football.

    2. The football helmet was not created to stop concussions or to encourage people to hit with their heads. It was created to stop skull fractures and death. Taking the helmet or the face mask away would not stop concussions. It would probably lead to more head down hits and result in more skull fractures and concussions.

    3.There more dangerous activities than playing football. Driving your car or riding a bike for instance or working as a logger, a commercial fisher man, or a roofer. Where is the concern for those people who make for less and get far fewer health benefits. Should we all stop using lumber, eating fish, or buying homes with pitched roofs? I've had two concussions and neither was the result of football -- one was a bike riding accident and one was a workplace accident.

    4. Football must try to reduce concussions -- as the Ivy League is doing. But, eliminating the game isn't the only solution.

  167. Concussions aren't necessary to get CTE. Driving a car does not reduce your life expectancy into the 50s. And your two concussions, if they were moderate or severe, may increase your risk of dementia later in life, so they are nothing to be sneezed at just because you didn't get them playing football. Football, unlike the professions you cite, is just a game--it's not feeding people or providing them shelter, so why must it be saved?

  168. "Football, unlike the professions you cite, is just a game--it's not feeding people or providing them shelter, so why must it be saved?"

    Hmmm . . . that game feeds people who work at NFL stadiums, who produce NFL merchandise, who play NFL football, who coach NFL football, who are equipment managers for NFL teams, who work in the front office of NFL teams, who work at ESPN, the NFL Network, CBS, NBC, ABC, local radio stations, people who work at hundreds of college stadiums, coach at the college and high school level, produce college and high school equipment and merchandise, the Big10 Network, the SEC network, local and regional television and radio stations, reporters who work for newspapers, web designers who create and maintain online content . . . . Those are just the people I could think of off the top of my head who are fed by football. Why does football have to disappear (Along with all those peoples jobs) when we are unsure how common CTE is among even professional players? I'm not saying that football doesn't have to change because of the concussion /CTE issue, but I dont think that we have to over react based on the limited amount of information that we have.

  169. They shall ban tackling during the week, and winning on Saturday.

  170. That's a lot of tied games in an eight-team league.

  171. @ John — Coach John Gagliardi banned tackling during his practices — and won 489 times on Saturday. He knew what he was doing. You have no idea what you’re talking about.

    — Brian

  172. Eliminate the armor that allows people to hit so hard without, perhaps, the same consequences for themselves. Only then will football be "safer."

  173. A brilliant move. Why waste an Ivy League-educated brain.

  174. Just do away with the dumb sport.

  175. It's time for some new thinking about the materials that make up the helmet. There is no need to be tied to the hard plastic helmets we have now. They might be creating as much trauma as they damp down. What is needed is a new, rubber-like material that absorbs 100% of the energy of the collision before it reaches the player's skull. Let's get with it, you materials scientists. You've developed metals for space shuttles that can withstand entrance into the earth's atmosphere at supersonic speeds. Should be no problem to protect football players running at each other at about 20 MPH.

  176. It is the sudden acceleration followed by deceleration that does the damage, not the collision per se. The brain sloshes inside the skull from being whipsawed, basically.

    An MD, and you do not know this? No wearable shell can protect you from a concussion at head-on run speeds, unless we are talking equipping the players with airbags.

    Indeed, it's the gear in itself that is the problem. Remove the pads and helmets, and no sane person is going to charge at full speed into another person leading with their shoulder. Half the team would have broken clavicles after the first play.

    Which is exactly how you change the game. Remove the false sense of impunity to high velocity collisions the pads and helmets gives the sport. The players and coaches will change the game themselves, overnight. It may take a while for concussion-related brain trauma to show up, but a broken femur is right now.

  177. This exists - check out our work with Guardian Caps to address repetitive, cumulative blows with a pliable/flexible surface at the point of contact. www.guardiancaps.com

  178. Two points - one is that the hard helmet causes that sudden acceleration. A rubber helmet stretches the impact over time in the same way a crunch zone does at the front of a car. Second, rugby, which is essentially American football without the helmets and pads, has a hugely high injury rate. It's a fallacy to think American football could be made safe by removing the helmets.

  179. An activity that is "harmful in normal use" is full of legal risks. Maybe the NFL can afford these risks, but colleges and high schools cannot.

  180. Oh, but they can afford them. That's because they don't experience the costs. So-called student athletes who suffer permanent injuries while playing college or high school football receive absolutely no long-term care or compensation from the institution for which they played. For colleges and high schools, it's no risk and great reward.

  181. Maybe they should just ban pads and helmets, and let them play, really just play, as relaxation outside of class. No more money, advertising, alumni nonsense, busing around, time out of classes, and other non college stuff. Maybe those who want to play professional ball can just do that. Farm teams not affiliated with colleges.

  182. This is utterly ridiculous. If colleges are going to play what sandlot athletes call "tackle football," it's necessary for the players to practice tackling. Otherwise, you might as well play what sandlot athletes call "touch football" (or its close relation "flag football"). And that would be fine, frankly. But it's one or the other, Ivy League. If "tackle football" is too dangerous even to practice, then don't play it all.

  183. I totally agree with Blue State. Take away the helmets and pads, like rugby. The game would be less about armor and more about athletics!

  184. Would an Ivy League college miss football if it disappeared completely, other than the 100 or so students admitted specifically because they played football?

    I can't imagine anybody turning down an Ivy League admission because they couldn't watch football on campus.

  185. The fans of football are not the students. They are the alumni -- especially older and sometimes richer alumni. No Ivy fund-raiser likes to contemplate a world without football. But someday they'll have to.

  186. What about women's hockey? They have the highest rate of concussions of all the sports and very little has been written about that fact. It is unusual because they don't allow checking but it's still higher than men's hockey or football.

  187. Cite please?

  188. Hooray for the coaches. How dumb. What about concussions in games? Football should be banned but never will because so much money is made on the game from high school to college to professional football.

  189. For colleges supposedly run by very smart people, this is a very dumb decision---as if a few less tackles will make the game safe. Here's a common sense idea that will guarantee safe football --- eliminate the sport.

  190. If there's no tackling how will Buddy Teevens get Dartmouth ready for the Bryn Mawr game?

  191. You're thinking of Women's Rugby. Dartmouth has a varsity team and Bryn Mawr has a club team.

  192. Like several other sensible commenters, I think the Ivy League should simply do away with football.

    I do not see how they can continue. Blocking and tackling are unnatural acts. They require practice. A player has to get into "hitting" shape. With no hitting in practice, expect to see Ivy League football with more big plays.

    I believe it's not entirely the game itself, but the game-day tradition, campus camaraderie and the alumni factor. Therefore, the Ivy League should attempt to replicate these other elements with soccer, using the MLS Seattle Sounders as a template.

  193. John Gagliardi, long-time successful coach at St. Johns in Minn., did the same thing according to Austin Murphy's book on the Johnnies during Gagliardi's tenure. Obviously didn't hurt that team.

  194. @ guysonbikes — Exactly right. Gagliardi racked up 489 wins and four national championships. He knew what he was doing. The commenters here, who offer their wild guesses that players who don’t tackle in practices won’t be able to do it in games, simply don’t know what they’re talking about.

    — Brian

  195. If full body tackling is a bad idea during practice, it is a bad idea during a game. Rather than this "double standard", -- or the silly idea to do away with football -- why not allow tackling only from the waist down, while still allowing grabbing above the waist?

  196. Good grief. Hey, I have an idea. Take these little ribbons, pin them to the belts of the pants, and if you touch one, you have tackled the runner, caused him to fumble, recovered it, and run it 3/4 of the way back. They couldnt pay me to go to a game.

  197. Doing away with football isn't silly, it's exactly what individual parents across the country are doing every time another one decides that his or her child is not going to risk life, limb, and brain playing football when there are a raft of other sports that provide all of the exercise and camaraderie without the debilitating consequences.

    Football is dying from the bottom up.

  198. That's known as 'rugby', the real man's game.

  199. To the poster who said practice without hitting means players play scared.....check out John Gagliardi of St. John's University, MN. ..... Winningest college coach of all time at all levels. No tackling or hitting in practice....ever. Not sure when it started, but when I was there in the 80's we never hit, not once in practice. Knocked off Mt. Union for the national championship in the late 90's early 2000's.

  200. Div III isn't football. It's less than the intramural flag football I played at Penn State in the 80's. Zzzzzz...............

  201. Clipping is even more dangerous. Miles Washington, a player at New Mexico State University, was rendered quadraplegic during a practice a couple of years ago. The cause was clipping.

    The school and NCAA won't provide long term disability insurance so 20 year old Miles lays in a bed for the rest of his life, unable to do much of anything. The NCAA knows that a certain number of kids will end up crippled from football. I'm not saying we need to put an end to football, but how about taking care of the kids who are crippled by it?

  202. Auuggghhhh! 4-O'clock High-Tea will be served promptly; the lads are instructed to be properly dressed. We're not going to use Flags either. Tapping the shoulder ...GENTLY... and politely saying, "You're It" will suffice.
    Muddy fields will not be tolerated. Dirty uniforms, you know?
    Matter-of-Fact, we're dropping Sports of any kind.
    "See ya' in the Funny Papers."

  203. I played one season of "B" football, which I suppose qualifies me as an expert. My two cents worth: I think the reason why high school players get more concussions during practice is A. The coaches are right there criticizing them verbally in front of everyone if the¥ mess up and B. Guys are trying to prove something to the coaches and often to themselves. Competition for positions can be fierce because the lower echelon players never get into the game, which they want to very much.

  204. When I was at Columbia lo these many years ago, it appeared that we had unilaterally disallowed full contact even during games.

  205. There's a reason the Ivys are considered among the smartest of the universities.

  206. And the softest football players.

  207. Federal money should not flow to schools that include tackle football, period.

  208. It's a tough thing to deal with. How do you balance seasoned conditioning, of which the feel of contact is very important, with the safety of players? This question gets to the core of the sport of football, which is a test of will, physical might, and collision, above all else. There's a high probability that such a question will not be resolved unless there's advances in equipment technology, or the fundamental rules of the game are changed to favor less dangerous contact. Personally, I believe safety is the most important thing. We shouldn't have to sacrifice fallen gladiators to keep the coliseum open. We're better than that.

  209. If tackling is bad in practice, it must be worse in a game. Why not go to some form of touch tackle or flag football?

  210. They're limiting the frequency and repetition.

  211. I suggest replacing their uniforms with tutus. Yes, it's football and has health risks associated with playing... That is the risk you decide to take by choosing to play the game. That is why they are in training, if you start removing aspects of the game, they're going to be sitting ducks out on the field.

  212. L201. Your comment might have had merit but for the obviously sexist opening sentence.

  213. Ooooo. . . . Can't have any sexist comments. That's a no no. After all, this is about football.

  214. I think it's telling that so many comments here display such open animosity to football, even advocating its end, while completely ignoring the fact that the article also noted that the Ivy League is looking into ways to make hockey, lacrosse, rugby, wrestling, and even soccer safer. Concussions are not only a problem in football, they are an issue in many sports.

  215. Badger2013. Interestingly, the British government announced this morning it is also looking for ways to reduce injuries to kids playing school rugby. Injuries in the UK mean more expenses for the government-run health care system. A few years ago, it was announced that ER's in UK were treating 20,000 pub fight victims a year, mainly from people using those glass pint mugs with handles as weapons. Result was most pubs now use plastic mugs.

  216. Those sound like reasonable initiatives, not unlike what the Ivy League is doing. My point was not that nothing should be done, it's that there is a heavy and clear bias against football related to concussions even though it is far from the only sport with the issue (and while exact numbers are difficult to find/verify, the rate of concussions in football appears to be similar to other contact sports like hockey).

    Criticizing football while leaving out this fact ignores the larger issue. For example, I support eliminating youth tackle football, just as I support the US Soccer Federation's decision to ban headers for young children. It's clear that many people, especially here within the comments section of the NY Times, simply do not like football for other reasons, leaving it to be unfairly singled out.

  217. John Gagliardi formerly of St.John's - a division 3 school in Minnesota, and one of the most successful college football coaches at any level eschewed tackling at practices decades ago.

  218. This is a good first step in what should result in the elimination of tackling in actual games. Played without tackling, football is a beautiful sport filled with graceful agility. Flag football is a wonderful alternative. In boxing the objective is to render an opponent unconscious. In football the object is quite similar - to use force to throw an opponent to the ground. Of course in order to move to flag football we need to start a revolution - not likely to happen any time soon - but with all the current and future CTE issues, we may evolve to keeping the sport of football but eliminating devastating injuries by eliminating tackling. It's not only the brutal head injuries. It's also the destruction of other body parts that takes a horrific toll.