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Parent Wants Players to Sign Waiver, Accept Ejection for Helmet Hits

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Copyright 2013 The Press Enterprise, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

The Press Enterprise
October 22, 2013, Tuesday
SPORTS; Pg. B3
585 words
EJECTION URGED FOR HELMET HITS
LANDON NEGRI STAFF WRITER LNEGRI@PE.COM

MENIFEE - A parent of a Heritage High sophomore has proposed a waiver for high school football players to sign that he believes would help alleviate the growing problem of head injuries.

The waiver would call for players to acknowledge and accept an immediate ejection for a helmet-to-helmet contact penalty "regardless of intent" from a game official or practice coach, as well as possible further disciplinary action.

The waiver was proposed by Chris Ver Planck, whose son Corey was injured in a junior varsity practice Sept. 24 and could miss the rest of the season, Chris said.

"My goal is to sit back as a fan and still love the game," Ver Planck said, "knowing that there's a rule out there that someone cared enough to step forward (and propose it)."

Safety and head injuries have, of course, become the red-flag topic in football at all levels. NFL referees have cracked down on helmet-to-helmet hits the last two seasons with both applause and criticism from former players, coaches and media members.

In the high school game, player safety has become even more of a debate locally. Two recent Southern California deaths of 16-year-old JV players - Riverside Arlington's Tyler Lewellen and Downey's Dodi Souza - after collapsing during scrimmages or games have heightened awareness of player safety, even as no direct concussion link has been identified in either case.

Ver Planck said he has taken his proposal to a number of area athletic directors personally and to Perris Unified School District board members by email.

The text of the waiver states the following: "HELMET TO HELMET DISCIPLINE WAIVER … I, (player's name) acknowledge as a participating Football Student Athlete at (high school name), will accept immediate ejection from the current game in progress as well as any disciplinary action taken by the Head Coaching Staff and/or Faculty, as a result of a HELMET TO HELMET CONTACT PENALTY called against myself, during any in-season competition, REGARDLESS OF INTENT."

Heritage athletic director David Drake, whom Ver Planck approached, said the idea has "good merit, good ideas and good intentions," but thought the "regardless of intent" clause might go too far.

"You're saying you're going to pull a kid out of a game for something he may or may not have done," Drake said. "It's kind of too extreme.

"If it's a flagrant penalty, the kid's out of the game and he'll go through the CIF suspension process. But too have a policy that we automatically sit them the rest of the game, I don't think the crime fits the punishment."

Still, Drake liked that there is a discussion. He was one of many from the area who attended a meeting of the region's athletic directors Oct. 9 - along with Southern Section assistant commissioner Rob Wigod - at the Alvord Unified School District Staff Development Center in Riverside. At that meeting, an hour-long presentation was made by Jim Clover and Jim Wynn of the SPORT Clinic regarding student athlete concussions and how they should be handled by school staff.

"It serves conversation and gives you something to think about," Drake said, "and a look at ways we can handle the policy."

Ver Planck thought his son would be able to return the following week until he missed one of the criteria of the baseline test several days later during an examination. He said he will continue to fight for his proposal.

"Absolutely I'm going to keep pushing it forward," he said. "I'm not doing anything illegal, so there's nothing to stop me."

October 22, 2013

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