California may ban youth tackle football
A proposed bill was introduced last month in the State Assembly that would ban youth tackle football in California and make it the first state to ban the sport for the youth. The bill, known as the Safe Youth Football Act, was introduced by Assemblymembers Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) and Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) in the hopes of protecting children from brain injury by establishing a minimum age to play in organized contact football programs. The bill would allow high-contact elements from football programs only at the high school level, which the authors of the bill claim will prevent young athletes from sustaining long-term brain damage caused by repetitive tackling, hitting and blocking. Gonzalez Fletcher, who is a former college cheerleader and lifelong football fan, stated the following in an interview with the San Francisco Gate,
I’m looking at this as how are we going to save football. We are on a downward trend. It’s time to have this discussion. These sub-concussive hits on young kids are taking their toll. Football is special – it is the only sport where the head to head contact is part of the game. Unfortunately, the changes in Pop Warner haven’t quite got us there.
According to Gonzalez Fletcher, the proposed bill aims to use existing science to create long-term protection for the state’s youth. The increasing research of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) has caused some concern in recent years about the health risks associated with some sports. CTE is caused by repetitive impacts to the head over time, which is why football is being specifically targeted in this proposed bill. Gonzalez Fletcher argues that CTE and sub-concussive hits can lead to problems such as depression and even youth suicide. The proposed bill will be considered in the spring of 2018, so we will have to wait and see if the bill passes.