Pop Warner launches new online program to give young athletes a “CrashCourse” in concussions
In light of the growing concern about concussions and their long-term risks for developing CTE, the nation’s largest youth football organization has taken a number of steps to reduce the risk for their young athletes – such as enacting protocols to remove hurt athletes and banning kickoffs altogether for its youngest athletes.
Now, the organization’s Little Scholars program is rolling out a new online tool aiming to give youth football players a “crash course” in understanding concussions.
Beginning today, Pop Warner will offer an interactive online concussion program called CrashCourse to all of its 325,000 participants, approximately 225,000 of which participate in youth football.
The program was developed by software developer TeachAids who worked with experts in medicine, engineering, and education at Stanford University.
The main course of the program involves a short interactive film which places the viewer in the role of a high school football player, as well as a symptom simulator designed to help young athletes recognize the most common signs of concussions.
CrashCourse also attempts to change how the young participants view concussions within the team.
“This really focuses on a kid’s perspective,” Pop Warner executive director Jon Butler told USA TODAY. “If you get dinged, tell somebody. If you see one of your teammates or (cheer) squad mates acting funny, tell somebody. … You are not ratting a kid out, is what it comes down to. You are helping the kid and helping the team.”
In a statement, the founder of The Brain Injury Research Institute praised the new program as one of the only options including research-based education.
“If we are going to change the culture of sports,” Bailes said, “we need to educate our young athletes.”