The Brian Leonard Football Camp has returned to SUNY Potsdam. More than 80 students from grades one to 12 are learning from the professionals. As our Cara Thomas tells us, they are learning the most important part of football is the basics.
POTSDAM, N.Y. -- Injuries are a part of any athlete's career and in a contact sport like football, injuries can be as serious as a broken bone or a concussion. And in the past, athletes were instructed to just play through it.
Director of Field Operations for the camp, Dan Duddy, said, "The old school coach can't exist anymore. Shake it off, get back in there, football is all about a little dizziness. That's for the birds, we don't want coaches like that anymore."
But a lot has changed. And serious injuries can no longer be ignored.
Cincinnati Bengals Running Back Brian Leonard said, "When you see the studies now with dementia and early sets of Alzheimer’s, it's devastating for people and they say it's partly because of blows to the head."
It's those serious injuries that football officials are working hard to prevent with newly enforced rules and better helmets. But at Brian Leonard's Football Camp at SUNY Potsdam, coaches say the most important thing that can keep athletes from getting seriously hurt is returning to the fundamentals.
"When football is played the way it's supposed to be played and kids are fundamentally right, it really is a safe game," says Duddy.
Kids as young as the first grade are being taught the basics of football this weekend. They're learning the correct way to catch the ball, how to move across the field and most importantly how to tackle. But Leonard admits that no matter how many times a player practices the basics, getting hurt is sometimes unavoidable.
He said, "I think concussions will always be part of the game. It's an unfortunate part of the game but it'll always be there."
While coaches and players say they're glad that safety is becoming an even higher priority, they say an injury is a chance they're willing to take. They say the benefits of a contact sport far outweigh the risks.