Yale football head coach Tom Williams and captain Jordan Haynes ’12 both expressed support for the Ivy League’s new restrictions on contact in practices in emails to the News last week. The rules limit teams to two full-contact practices a week during the season, in addition to restrictions on spring practice and preseason.
“Sure, more live periods might help your tackling form for maybe the first game, but the benefits are not worth the risks: concussions along with a countless number of non-head related issues,” Haynes said. “A significant number of full-contact periods in a week is simply unnecessary and too risky.”
But both Haynes and Williams said the changes are unlikely to affect the way the team practices, as Yale adopted similar restrictions of its own years ago.
“The presidents of the Ivy like to believe that they are out in front of everyone else,” Williams said. “We let them think that. Most all of us have been doing this all along. It will not affect Yale and most other [Ivy League schools] at all.”
The new rules — which limit Ivy League schools to just over half the number of full-contact practices the NCAA allows — make the Ivy League one of the country’s pioneers in taking significant action to protect football players from head injury.
No matter what the restrictions are, Haynes said that nothing will entirely stop concussions and other head injuries from occurring in football.
“These rules are definitely a step in the right direction,” Haynes said. “I’m not sure how much further you can take these rules without having to much of an impact on the way football is played. In the end, football is a violent sport, and concussions will never be able to be taken out of the game completely.”
Haynes added that, every time he has received a concussion, the Yale staff has treated it seriously.
Williams agreed with his captain. Although the league’s new rules also include provisions for teaching proper tackling technique to players, he said that receiving hits to the head are part of playing football the way it is meant to be played, and that nothing short of switching to touch football will change that.
“I think concussions are a real issue but nothing really more significant than telling people to wear a seat belt when they drive,” he said. “It doesn’t guarantee you you’ll survive an accident but it will increase your chances. Same thing applies to these new rules. That’s the price you can pay for the privilege of driving. Same with the privilege of playing this great game.”