HBO Real Sports put the spotlight on USA Football’s Heads Up Football program.

USA Football Regional Development Camp at Grand Park in Westfield Ind.

In a November edition¬†of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, the safety of youth football came under the microscope.

Correspondent Bernard Goldberg highlighted Heads Up Football as an initiative aimed at reducing the risk of youth football, but he questioned how much change it’s causing. On the day he visited the San Antonio Predators, many of the players were reportedly leading with their heads rather than their shoulders when tackling, and they participated in 90 minutes of full-contact practice, three times the recommended limit.

When Goldberg asked Collins what the USA Football restrictions were on hitting, the coach replied, “I don’t even remember. I’m not gonna lie, I have to go look it up.” Collins noted that USA Football has made “recommendations,” not hard-and-fast rules. USA Football executive director Scott Hallenbeck told Goldberg that the organization cannot mandate youth football teams follow their recommendations, noting it lacks a sanctioning system to punish coaches who don’t comply.

Goldberg also spoke with Joseph Curtatone, the mayor of Somerville, Mass., who declared his desire to prohibit organized tackle football from all city fields and all city fields for players below high school age. Dr. Ann McKee and Chris Nowinski, co-founders of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at the Boston University School of Medicine, likewise expressed their belief to Goldberg that given the risks, children shouldn’t play tackle football before reaching high school.

The full Real Sports episode will be available to stream later Wednesday on HBO GO.

For more on this safety-related edition of Real Sports, click here.

About the author

Dan Guttenplan