New youth football rules could affect how your kids play ball.
Pop Warner, the largest youth football organization in the country, announced a concussion awareness initiative that takes effect this August.
It is aimed at making football safer for the 400,000 children in their programs.
By limiting contact during practice, they're hoping to cut down on concussions. Coaches say this is a trend that will likely affect all levels of the game.
"I've been playing since I was four. I'm a running back. It's been a big part of my life," said Cole Mason, 13, of Morristown.
His dad, Bobby Mason, is president of the East Tennessee Pop Warner Youth League where hundreds of kids play each season. Parents got together two years ago and decided Pop Warner's rule book was the safest for their kids.
"You'd have 300 pound kids hitting 95 pound kids, Pop Warner breaks that up into age and weight divisions," said Bobby Mason.
The organization already has an extensive rule book, but it's about to get even more strict.
Tuesday the organization announced it was banning all head to head hits, only one third of practice time can be spent in contact with another player (or 40 minutes a day) and no tackling from further than three yards apart.
Mason said the new rules are a weight off his shoulders.
"When I drop them off at practice I know they're going to be taken care of," said Mason.
Coaches of two of the most winningest high school football programs in the area, Maryville and Alcoa, both agree Pop Warner's rules are a step in the right direction for younger kids.
"It started in the pro level with the amount of contact they can have during a practice week, it filtered down to the college level but it hasn't hit the high school level yet. But that 's the next step," said George Quarles, Maryville High School head football coach.
But they have concerns about how contact limits will affect the game as a whole.
"Anything that will make it safer I'm obviously for. At the same time, there's a certain amount of toughness involved that you don't want to take away," said Quarles.
"As far as the NFL goes, you just want to make sure the integrity of the game is preserved. Football is a physical, violent game and we want to make sure that these rules don't interfere with that. But as young kids go, I think it's important that they're not ran off at an early age, that they continue to want to play football and enjoy football," said Alcoa Assistant Coach Brian Nix.
Knox Metro Youth Football League says they plan to study Pop Warner's rules and may adopt similar rules in their program.