Future of Football

How can rethinking the way a sport is played help protect our student athletes?

This project took place in New York, NY
Project Location

New York, NY

A teacher shows a class how to play basketball

When Riverdale was unable to field a team for the last football game of the 2018 season due to injuries, Athletics Director John Pizzi knew something major had to change. A quest to make the game safer led to a partnership with the Concussion Legacy Foundation (CLF) and the Metropolitan Independent Football League (MIFL). Together, they developed and piloted a series of key rule changes: eliminating kickoffs and onside kicks, limiting full-contact practice time, and requiring increased medical support on-site.

Our ultimate goal was to create the safest high school football league in the country.

How it Started

With funding from a Riverdale family, the CLF undertook a study of schools in the MIFL to learn more about how injuries were occurring during practices and games—and how they might be prevented.

Where it is Now

Since the implementation of the new rules in the 2021 season, Riverdale, along with other schools in the MIFL, has seen an increase in participation and a decrease in concussions.

What's Next

The CLF and Riverdale hope to develop a set of protocols and common practices that would simplify the process of bringing these rule changes to other high schools across the country.


Concussion Legacy Foundation

Metropolitan Independent Football League

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