ST. PAUL, Minn. - When Jeremy Ling saw enrollment for his elementary-aged son's local tackle team dry up to almost none, he created TackleBar.
"We looked at this landscape," he said. "The declining participation and the injury risk concerns and said, 'There’s got to be a better way.'”
Being a former player himself, Ling was not satisfied with flags in the game of flag football. Their placement, he said, didn’t teach good tackling skills.
“That was the other part of it," Ling said. "I wanted to create something that was safe while teaching the proper tackling technique.”
Two neoprene bars are strapped to the back of each player, connected by plastic prongs on the top and bottom.
Instead of tackling, each player rips off the bar.
"Kids at this age don't do a good job tackling anyway," said Dan Smoot, president of the Jr. Wolfpack football program in Cottage Grove. "You want to make it safer. So we looked at it and said, 'This should make sense.'”
The Cottage Grove league has decided to adopt fusion football, the non-tackling version, while using tackle bar.
"I'm a dad," Smoot said. "I have two kids in the program and I want my kids to be safe, too. So that’s how we try and stay ahead of the issue.”
To learn more about Tackle Bar you can visit Tacklebar.com.