The Pittsburgh Steelers and UPMC Sports Medicine have announced a new program that will raise awareness and promote safe play among high school, middle school and youth football players, the organizations announced today.
The program, will provide information on preventing concussions through safe play and proper tackling techniques, as well as concussion management.
Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin as well as Dr. Micky Collins, clinical and executive director of the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program, will serve as spokespersons for the initiative, which was derived from a saying that Tomlin uses with the Steelers – "Don't hit the head, Don't use the head" in regards to safe play.
"We are excited about this program and we hope that it will make youth football safer for our kids," Tomlin said. "We want to make sure this commitment to safe play is a priority and I strongly believe that it will help educate football players while using a common theme for proper tackling."
"This has the potential to be a very powerful campaign," said Collins. "Coach Tomlin's simple but profound words are crucial for kids to hear. Athletes have a conscious decision at the point of making a block or tackle. Not hitting the head and not using the head are attainable concepts in football. With the message coming directly from Coach Tomlin, whom football players everywhere idolize, I am hopeful that this campaign will help protect the safety and integrity of the game of football," he added.
The program will provide a letter from Coach Tomlin and Dr. Collins and a fact sheet about the UPMC concussion program. Additionally, teams will be provided with posters for their locker rooms featuring Coach Tomlin and his "Don't hit the head, Don't use the head" message.
Additionally, there is a website (www.steelers.com/playsmart) for athletes and coaches to access videos about concussion awareness, symptoms and management from UPMC, and a link to information through USA Football's "Head's Up Football" program with the NFL (http://videos.usafootball.com/pagesheadsupfootball/) that promotes coaching education, proper equipment fitting as well as a set of recommended standards for parents, coaches and leagues.
The Steelers/UPMC's "Don't hit the head, Don't use the head" program is in support of USA Football's "Head's Up Football" initiative that was recently launched.