NEW YORK – Popular, award-winning actor Alec Baldwin, who played former NFL team neurosurgeon Dr. Julian Bailes in the movie “Concussion”, is helping to educate parents, players and coaches about concussion awareness and the advanced player safety measures Pop Warner Little Scholars has implemented.
Baldwin teamed with his former high school football quarterback Steve Forenza and Bailes in a video that will be central to Pop Warner’s “Play Safer” campaign. The video, which will be distributed as a PSA to TV stations in more than 40 markets and shared through social media, can be viewed at popwarner.com/playsafer.
“When you’re looking to articulate something as important as concussion awareness and player safety it’s hard to imagine a better spokesperson than Alec Baldwin,” said Jon Butler, executive director of Pop Warner Little Scholars.
“We have taken a number of important, game-changing steps to make Pop Warner football safer, thanks in large part to Dr. Bailes’ medical guidance. This campaign will help us remind parents, coaches and players that the game and the culture are changing for the better. Safety first.”
“Pop Warner has been a leader in improving concussion awareness and player safety in youth football,” said Baldwin. “As someone who loves the sport, I was happy to team up with Dr. Bailes and my old friend Steve to share an important message about making the game safer today than it was when we played.”
The education campaign is the latest effort for Pop Warner. Earlier this year, it became the first national football organization at any level to ban kickoffs. Instead of kicking it off, the ball is placed at the 35-yard line to start each half and after each score for its three youngest divisions.
Following the season, Pop Warner will review the results of the move as it considers implementation in older divisions.
Among the other important player safety measures Pop Warner has undertaken:
- Pop Warner limits contact to 25 percent of practice time.
- In 2010, Pop Warner implemented the first youth sport concussion policy requiring that any participant removed from practice, play or competition due to a head injury or suspected concussion may not return to Pop Warner activities until evaluated – and receives written clearance – by a licensed medical professional trained in the evaluation and management of concussions, based on Washington State’s 2009 Lystedt Law.
- To ensure that Pop Warner stays on the forefront of new health and safety issues and any medical developments that may affect our young athletes, Pop Warner formed an independent Medical Advisory Committee in 2010. Led by neurosurgeons, researchers and sports medicine professionals, the committee is focused on the prevention, proper identification and treatment of concussions; hydration awareness and proper nutrition guidelines; and general health and safety issues.
- Pop Warner coaches are trained in USA Football’s Heads Up Football program, where safer approaches to tackling and blocking are emphasized.
- In 2012, Pop Warner banned full-speed head-on, blocking or tackling drills in which the players line up more than 3 yards apart.