PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — New guidelines are being proposed for school sports aimed at improving safety.

It comes after the deaths of several high school football players this year.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has come up with some recommendations including a zero tolerance for illegal head-first hits, having athletic trainers on the sidelines and schools offering non-tackle games as an alternative.

Over the weekend, friends came together to remember 17-year-old Andre Smith. He suffered a fatal injury playing football for his high school in Chicago. The medical examiner ruled he died of blunt force trauma due to football.

He’s the seventh high school player to die this year in the U.S. Just days ago, a player from Texas died after collapsing on the sidelines. Last month, a player from New Jersey died of a lacerated spleen.

“Paramount for every coach in the WPIAL is safety first,” said West Allegheny Athletic Director David McBain. He is also chair of the WPIAL Sports Medicine Advisory Committee.

He’s paying careful attention to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations and thinks having athletic trainers on hand is especially important to look out for kids.

“I think if you have that medical component in the building in the district everyday, you’re going to see a lot of things change and a lot of positives happen,” said McBain.

He says about 15 percent of schools in the state don’t have trainers.

But he also says high school football is safer than it used to be, and schools here are taking a proactive approach.

“Making sure the tackling drills are taught correctly, which we do here, making sure the equipment fits properly,” said McBain.

McBain also sits on the Sports Medicine Committee for the PIAA and says these recommendations are on his agenda for their meeting this winter.

Despite what has happened this year, high school football deaths are way down from the 1960s and 1970s.

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David Highfield