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The Olive Branch Youth Football and Cheer League (OBYFCL) will institute a form of tackle football called “TackleBar” to be offered in addition to the flag and tackle football for younger age groups this fall.

A happy week without sports week! That certainly doesn’t sound good but it appears to be the “new normal” as they say right now as we continue to work through this coronavirus threat across the country. Sports activities have pretty much been set aside as a measure to keep us safe from the virus, which I actually think is a wise move.

While you’re working through the coronavirus threat, consider the idea of a new brand of football being offered to the kids in the Olive Branch Youth Football and Cheer League, or OBYFCL.

Board members recently decided to go ahead with adding TackleBar Football to what is already offered for kids in the 5-6-year-old group and the 7-8-year-old group.

Five and 6-year-olds now play only flag football and 7-8-year-olds play only tackle football. That will not change, but Brian Harvey with OBYFCL said TackleBar football is going to be another option to play.

“It’s called safer football,” Harvey recently said. “TackleBar teaches the proper, and safe, way to tackle a ball carrier.”

What it is all about is that players wear an apparatus with two “bars” secured in the back. A quarterback, ball carrier, or receiver is “tackled” when an opponent wraps his (or her) arms around the player with the ball and pulls a bar off the player’s harness. That player is then considered “down” and the teams go to the next play. Players wear helmets and pads like other forms of the game but with the harness added to the uniform.

Harvey stressed it will not replace flag football or tackle football but will give parents the option of their child playing tackle bar football instead. He said the response to TackleBar has been good thus far and hopes more parents will look at it as a football option for the youngest kids.

According to the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine, TackleBar football has a lower injury rate than flag football or tackle football.

Quoting the Journal, “the overall injury rate of TackleBar football was found to be 0.31 per 1000 athlete-exposures (AEs), which is lower than youth tackle (2.25-2.60/1000 AEs) and flag (5.77/1000 AEs) football. TackleBar football may represent a reasonable alternative to tackle and flag football with regard to injuries.

Football coaches and those involved in the sport like it because it teaches players the proper way to tackle, with the helmet up and not driven into the opponent.

“Head up, wrap up, and pull,” as Harvey said.

TackleBar, which originated in Minnesota and has been especially popular among programs in the Midwest, was named as a finalist for the National Football League’s Innovations to Advance Athlete Health and Safety Competition Award.

For more information, contact the OBYFCL about TackleBar Football. Harvey hopes more programs in the Mid-South would look at this as an option to keep kids interested in football, teach them game fundamentals, and keep them safe. Learn more about it at www.tacklebar.com.

PREP SPORTS HALTED: The Mississippi High School Activities Association has placed all spring sports and extracurricular activities on an extended hiatus through March 29 to abide by directives about the COVID-19 threat by health officials. No events or practices are allowed even if schools are in session, although it appears most are not, including the DeSoto County School District. MHSAA officials are looking at contingency plans, both for resuming the seasons and for canceling the seasons.

“We urge our member schools and their communities to take every possible precaution to remain safe and healthy,” said MHSAA Executive Director Don Hinton.

Northpoint Christian School has suspended all activities through Friday, March 20 at least, but as of press time Wednesday, no further announcement had been made.

NO G LEAGUE? Another victim of coronavirus outbreak is NBA G League basketball and the Memphis Hustle season. The season is on suspension right now but speculation this week has been the NBA teams will likely have the G League season canceled. Most G League franchises, while good for developing future NBA players, don’t do well financially, and with the NBA season in C-19 limbo, they may opt to cut their losses with the G League this year.

Nothing official, but something to look for in the future.