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Youth Sports Safety Summit Propses National Safety Plan

Safety SummitWASHINGTON -- The 4th Youth Sports Safety Summit convened Tuesday to address injuries of all types that occur by the millions annually in high school and youth sports.  Legislators on Capitol Hill on Wednesday will be briefed on the summit's new National Action Plan to protect youth athletes.

Pop Warner: The national youth football organization is a member of the Youth Sports Safety Alliance. Executive Director Jon Butler said about 275,000 youngsters played Pop Warner in 2012. With concussion concerns, was there a drop in participation?

"We were about flat," said Butler, who attended Tuesday's meeting. "We've been growing each year. This is the 22nd season for which we have data, and we've been up 19 of those 22 years. This year was about flat. So under the circumstances, that's not bad."

Comstock said her injury surveillance group did a study, under a grant from NFL Charities, of middle school football players. She said the study found those players were "nine or almost 10" times more likely to sustain concussions in practice than Pop Warner players.

Pop Warner stresses that its grouping of players by age and weight makes for a safer game. Butler noted that the study was done before last season, when Pop Warner took more safety steps: new rules limiting contact drills to one-third of practice time and allowing no drills in which players collide from beyond 3 yards.

"There's so much misinformation right now that unfortunately parents treat as fact," Butler. "And I think once we started to get some of this data out about the incidence of concussions … that hopefully we'll maintain that (participation). I think football is not going to away."

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