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Nearly Half of All States Introducing New Spin on Youth Football

17 Oct, 2018

By: Michael Popke

As communities around the country continue to see participation numbers in youth football plummet, a new way of playing the game is making inroads in at least 21 states, according to a statement from TackleBar Football.

Already endorsed by the Minnesota Vikings, this version of football “offers a safer approach to the game that preserves the tradition and spirit of the sport,” reads the TackleBar website. “Players wear traditional football equipment, plus a TackleBar harness that holds two foam bars across the lower back. The defender must track and engage with proper form tackling technique while wrapping the ball carrier and ripping a bar from the harness. With this approach, players stay on their feet rather than taking the ball carrier to the ground.”

The game is “very different” from flag football, the website states, because the game still teaches tackling technique and form and helps bridge the gap between flag and tackle football.

"We don't care about the scores in the game, we don't care about the records,” Dan Wick, director of the Onalaska (Wis.) Park and Recreation Department, which offers TackleBar for fifth and sixth graders, told a local TV news station. “We want the kids who are playing this to continue playing and help our high school football program be successful.”

“I suffered injuries and concussions while I was playing, so I know the importance of taking the head out of the game and teaching proper fundamentals,” Mike Williams, TackleBar’s national outreach director and head football coach at Van Nuys (Calif.) High School writes on the TackleBar website. “Now, I’m both a coach and father. I have a unique perspective and truly believe the future of football depends on making it safer for kids.”

Will TackleBar become standard at youth football tournaments for players of a certain age? Time will tell.

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