Keeping football players safe and reducing injuries top priority

SPOKANE, Wash. - With all eyes on New Orleans this weekend for Super Bowl XLVII, a lot of questions are being raised about the safety of America's favorite sport.

New research shows football concussions can cause brain damage, even death.  This week, President Obama weighed in on the topic saying if he had a son he would have to "think long and hard" before letting him play.

How to keep players safe and reduce injuries is now a top priority for the NFL and sports associations across the country.

Keeping football players safe while playing

The NFL announced this week it's working out the details to give $100-million to Harvard University to study and treat players injuries.

In Spokane, nearly 2-thousand kids sign up to play flag and tackle football with Spokane Youth Sports Association every year.

Phil Helean, Executive Director of SYSA said education and training are key to keep kids safe on the field.

"We train our coaches to make sure they are using, teaching proper techniques for blocking and tackling, just to prevent injuries," Helean said.

Before kids can play football, parents have to sign and read a form outlining the symptoms of a concussion. 

Under Washington law, an athlete who has suffered a concussion or is suspected of having a brain injury must be removed from the game or practice immediately.  The law also requires the athlete to be checked out by a doctor specializing in concussion injuries before they can play again.

"I think there is always some parents out there that are concerned about having kids involved in particular sports, one being football," Helean said.

"But I think for the most part there's more of an excitement, watching Seahawks, actually increases participation," he said.