Dramatic changes reportedly coming to youth football

By Josh King, Veuer

The game of football is about to undergo some dramatic changes -- at least, for children.

The number of young kids playing football has declined recently, and the belief that the sport isn't safe for children is on the rise. USA Football, the country's governing body for youth football, is trying to combat these trends by making the game look a little bit more like gym class.

According to The New York Times, a fairly extensive overhaul is planned for the rules of youth football.

For the last half decade, the number of kids playing football has fallen dramatically. The drop started shortly after Congress held the first hearing into the links between concussions and mental illness.

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Dr. Bennet Omalu, who discovered CTE in football players from concussions
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Dr. Bennet Omalu, who discovered CTE in football players from concussions
Forensic pathologist and neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu participates in a briefing sponsored by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) on Capitol Hill on January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. Dr.Omalu is credited with discovering chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in former NFL players. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)
Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) (L), and forensic pathologist and neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu (C), participate in a briefing sponsored by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), right, on Capitol Hill on January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. Dr.Omalu is credited with discovering chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in former NFL players. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)
Forensic pathologist and neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu participates in a briefing sponsored by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) on Capitol Hill on January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. Dr.Omalu is credited with discovering chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in former NFL players. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)
Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) (L) and forensic pathologist and neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu participate in a briefing sponsored by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), right, on Capitol Hill on January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. Dr.Omalu is credited with discovering chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in former NFL players. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) greets forensic pathologist and neuropathologist, Dr. Bennet Omalu before a briefing sponsored by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) on Capitol Hill on January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. Dr.Omalu is credited with discovering chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in former NFL players. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)
Forensic pathologist and neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu participates in a briefing sponsored by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) on Capitol Hill on January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. Dr.Omalu is credited with discovering chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in former NFL players. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)
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Mark Murphy, a member of the USA Football board and president of the NFL's Green Bay Packers, understands the worry.

"There are, legitimately, concerns among parents about allowing their kids to play tackle football at a young age," Murphy told the Times.

After the planned rule changes, the game will reportedly look more like flag football, rather than the physical sport we are familiar with.

The new format -- called "modified tackle" -- was tested by youth football teams in Cleveland, Ohio. It allows for 7 players on the field instead of the traditional 11. However, medical experts maintain that a child's long term brain health is still at risk from the blows that football players repeatedly take.

The folks at Pop Warner plan to try the new rules out as part of a "trial and error" process. There are some, like the advocacy group Practice Like Pros, that want all tackling banned from youth football altogether.

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