Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Ivy League 'Gets It'

Year after year, the Ivy League produces some of the top prospects in America and around the globe.  The eight-team conference, established in 1954, includes perennial powerhouses Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Brown University. 

No, we aren’t talking about sports.  We are talking about some of the most highly decorated and prestigious universities in the world. 

Each of the last four US Presidents attended an Ivy League School.  The faculty and alumni of Columbia University alone have captured 96 different Noble Prizes.  And US News ranks the Harvard Medical School as the no. 1 research medical school in the nation.

So when the Ivy League boldly sets a precedent and establishes new health guidelines, I listen.  Even when talking about sports.

The New York Times first reported the Ivy League’s plans to limit full contact practices for the upcoming 2011 football season.  The aim is to reduce the number of opportunities for student athletes to sustain head injuries. Below are a few of the key rule changes.

  • Teams will be allowed a maximum of two full-contact practices per week during the season. 
  • In the off-season, the number of contact-free practices will be increased from three to four.
  • During preseason two-a-days, only one full-contact session will be allowed daily.
These changes will collectively reduce the number of contact practices by 42 percent compared to the current NCAA limits.

The numbers are simply too staggering for the rest of the NCAA to ignore.  If the NCAA as a governing body is unimpressed, major conferences should take the lead and implement similar strategies to protect their student athletes.

If Charles Barkley offered you advice on your golf swing, you would simply ignore it.  He has zero credibility in that area.  However, if Jack Nicklaus, the greatest golfer who ever lived, offered a helpful hint to fix your slice, you would do exactly what he says.

It’s not a perfect plan, but the sport’s brightest have chimed in.  They’ve got my attention.

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