Clint Morgan, the associate director of athletics for the Georgia Independent School Association, says his organization has paid attention to the decreasing trend of football participation numbers. With safety at the forefront of people’s minds, the GISA determined partnering with Atavus and requiring all football programs in the association to be Atavus certified by the start of the 2020 season was the best way to protect players throughout the state.
“We have been doing significant research on how to save the game. We felt that it was time to do something to show the families in our association that we are going to be proactive and adopt the best certification possible for the safety of the game,” Morgan explains as to why the GISA went with Atavus as its official and exclusive tackling certification partner.
Offering a new way of instructing, then making it a requirement, could be taken the wrong way by football coaches who are used to their methods, but Morgan says the GISA has received positive feedback from its members who understand the game is changing for the better.
“For some of them, this is totally different from what they have been used to doing. For others, not much will change. However, the one thing they can all agree on is that the Atavus Tackling System is not only a safer way to teach tackling, but it also gives them an improved way of measuring the success of their team’s tackling as a whole,” Morgan says.
As coaches work to get certified by Aug. 1, 2020, Morgan explains the goals and expectations of what the GISA gets out of its partnership with Atavus will come in phases. Right now, the focus is on certification so there is a consistency to how tackling is taught throughout all the member schools.
“Beyond that, we do not yet have specific outcome goals established, but we do expect to see reduced instances of head contact and other tackling-related injuries moving forward,” Morgan explains. “Atavus will play a significant role in helping us track and measure outcomes, as well as identify and address areas for improvement on an ongoing basis through their expertise in game and practice film analysis.”
The other part of the equation for the GISA is that while requiring certification for all football coaches could place an extra load on office staff in terms of monitoring and tracking, Atavus actually handles quite a bit of the work making it a seamless process.
“The comprehensive and turnkey certification program Atavus brings to the table, which includes detailed tracking and reporting … we don’t expect that our resources will be stretched to any significant degree, if at all,” Morgan says.
It all adds up to what amounted to an easy decision, according to Morgan. It’s also allowed the GISA to become a national leader in football safety as it joins the Texas University Interscholastic League and the Texas High School Coaches Association as mandating Atavus certification for all football coaches.
While it’s high praise, Morgan says partnering with Atavus wasn’t driven by accolades but by “trying to do our best to serve our schools in the GISA.”