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2015 Darien Junior Football League (DJFL)
First of all, the DJFL Board of Directors would like to congratulate the Darien High School (DHS) Football Team, as well as Coach Rob Trifone and his coaching staff, on winning the 2015 Connecticut State Championship. This is DHS’s first football title win since 1996 and capped an undefeated season, #1 ranking in the state and winning their 3rd consecutive FCIAC championship. The season was truly special to the players, many of which began playing football together in the 3rd grade as part of the DJFL program, and it was an exciting season for all at DHS and in our broader community.
The risks and understandings of concussions, as we are all aware, has increasingly become a focus of the media as health professional, organized sports programs across all levels, and players and parents, among others, have recognized the importance of protecting our athletes. This has led to improved identification and treatment of brain injuries and, importantly, better implementation of measures to protect players and minimize the potential for such occurrences. Within the DJFL, the Board remains committed to maintaining a safe and positive environment for players to learn, develop and compete in the great game of football. The safety of our players comes first at all times while we strive to teach teamwork, respect and perseverance, and we firmly believe football is among the best ways to teach our youth valuable life lessons.
As coaches and parents, we also recognize the potential for concussions in any sport is real, particularly in competitive contact sports, and we take this matter very seriously. To educate and prepare our football coaches for their role, all coaches in the DJFL go through extensive training and certification programs in the latest concussion protocols. In fact, the Fairfield County Football League (FCFL), of which the DJFL is a founding town member, was the first youth tackle football league in the country to require such training of all its coaches. Additionally, all coaches must become certified in USA Football training and development techniques which are designed to minimize the likelihood of player injuries. Instilled in our coaches is a philosophy of “when in doubt, the player sits out” and this applies to any potentially serious injury, including concussions.
The DJFL Board also believes in transparency and accountability to our players and parents. As such, we would like to be the first contact sport team in town to share with you the DJFL concussion statistics for the 2015 season:
- This season, which began in August and concluded in November, Darien had the largest program in the FCFL with 272 registered tackle players.
- Over the course of the season, a total of 7 DJFL tackle players sustained concussions.
- Of these, 3 occurred in competitive games while the remaining 4 occurred during team practices (2 from direct impacts and 2 from incidental contact).
These results indicate that less than 3 out of every 100 players in the DJFL sustained a concussion during the 2015 season (i.e., 7 out of 272 players, or 2.57% of players overall). Further, there were 13 teams among our 3rd through 8th grades and these teams, in the aggregate, played in 116 competitive games and held over 400 individual team practices. Based on an average of approximately 21 players per team, this results in 10,836 “athletic exposures” (i.e., number of players per team multiplied by the total number of team practices and games) for players in the DJFL. The incident rate of concussions would therefore equate to 6.5 concussions per 10,000 athletic exposures.
While we do not have a baseline to compare our 2015 experience to prior seasons, it is the Board’s view that the rate of concussions amongst our DJFL players is reflective of our league’s efforts to properly train, develop and equip our athletes. However, as a point of reference, the NCAA and US Department of Defense conducted a comprehensive study of the incidents of concussions in 2014. The results of their analysis showed that, between the 2009/10 and 2013/14 academic years, the concussion rate per 10,000 athletic exposures in NCAA sports were as follows:
- 6.3 for Women’s Soccer
- 6.7 for Football
- 7.5 for Women’s Hockey
- 7.9 for Men’s Hockey
- 10.9 for Wrestling
We recognize that playing football is both an individual and personal choice, and we respect the decisions players and/or families may make towards playing contact sports. In any case, the DJLF Board remains committed to keeping our players safe and to avoiding injuries to the greatest extent possible, and we hope this information is helpful in providing more clarity on the incidence of concussions in our youth program as well as on a relative basis. Our Board plans to continue to provide this data annually going forward.
We would like to wish everyone in the community the very best for the holidays. On behalf of the DJFL Board, congratulations to all on an outstanding 2015 season of football and we look forward to another great year in 2016.
Blue Wave Pride!
The DJFL Board