The Los Angeles Times reports that on Thursday, the California Senate approved a bill that would restrict high school and middle school football teams’ practices both during the off-season and the regular season. The bill, AB 2127, from Assemblyman Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova), now goes to California Governor Jerry Brown for approval.
Authors and supporters of the bill argue that it will reduce the number of concussions and brain injuries to the student football players. It requires the schools to limit teams to no more than two full-contact practices during the regular season and bar entirely any full-contact practices in the off-season. In addition, the bill forbids schools from having full-contact practices that exceed 90 minutes in one day as well as require an athlete who has suffered a head injury or concussion to complete a supervised return-to-play regimen for at least one week.
U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that roughly four million high school students across the country are victims of head injuries every year.
AB 2127 is supported by the American Academy of Neurology, the Brain Injury Assn. of California and the California Interscholastic Federation. The brain Injury Assn. told legislators, “Academic studies have shown that the cumulative effects of sub-concussive blows to the brain experienced during football may contribute to long-term brain damage and early-onset dementia.”
Sen. Steve Knight of Palmdale joined four other members of the GOP to vote against the bill. He asserted that current standards are sufficient and limiting full-contact in practices would hinder coaches’ preparation for the players, thus diminishing their safety. He added that the reduced practices could also lower the players’ chances of being offered scholarships, saying, “It distinctly puts our kids in California at a disadvantage when it comes to recruiting.”
The California Medical Assn., however, opposes the bill, though it called it “laudable,” because it might allow “some licensed healthcare providers without the proper training in concussions and neurology to perform these assessments.”