California Lawmakers Moving to Ban Tackle Football for Kids

AP Marcio Jose Sanchez YF
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Joining the trend seen in a handful of other states, California Democrats are preparing to outlaw tackle football for kids under 14.

State Democrats have introduced the “Safe Youth Football Act,” and if passed, the bill would make California the first state to ban tackle football for kids.

The bill, introduced by Assemblymembers Kevin McCarty (D- Sacramento) and Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D – San Diego), is sold as a way to “protect children from brain injury by establishing a minimum age to play in organized tackle football programs.”

“Numerous studies have shown that Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is caused by repetitive impacts to the head sustained over a period of time and cite sub-concussive impacts as an important factor leading to brain injury,” Assemblymember McCarty said. “Children who play contact sports during their most critical years of brain development are at a significantly greater risk for neurological impairments and CTE later in life.”

The bill was crafted with the assistance of several medical doctors, McCarty claimed.

McCarty’s website features a quote by Dr. Bennet Omalu, author of an award winning book on CTE, Concussion.

“The research is clear – when children participate in high-impact, high-contact sports, there is a 100% risk of exposure to brain damage,” Omalu said. “Once you know the risk involved in something, what’s the first thing you do? Protect children from it.”

Assemblywoman Fletcher, insisted that the law was not meant to destroy youth football, only to make it safe for kids.

“I’m looking at this as how are we going to save football. We are on a downward trend,” Gonzalez Fletcher told SFGATE. “It’s time to have this discussion.”

“These sub-concussive hits on young kids are taking their toll,” she added.

Several states are considering similar measures including, Illinois and New York. The state of Maryland also just introduced its own version of a ban on contact sports.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.



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