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Bronx Assemblyman Proposes Bill Banning Kids Under 14 From Playing Tackle Football

Some Believe, If Passed, Lawmaker Michael Benedetto's Idea Could Kill The Sport

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A proposed bill wants to tackle the issue of concussions in football. It would ban playing tackle football for anyone under the age of 14.

But as CBS 2’s Sonia Moghe reported Friday, some say the proposal is crossing the line.

“All that time, 55 years in the Bronx, it’s like a stab in the back of myself and all the other coaches throughout New York State,” long-time coach Jerry Demers said.

Demers has been coaching youth football in New York City since the 1950s. That’s why kids call him “the chief.” These days he oversees the Warrior Football Club in the Bronx, which teaches children from the ages of 5 to 13 how to play football.

Kids 7 and up can tackle.

“My personal experience being at every single practice and game for the Warrior Football Club in 55 years in the Bronx, I’ve never had an incident of concussion with any of that age group.”

“They do not get up the speed to have a concussion. Kids at that age are reluctant to put their heads down,” Demers said.

He said he worries that Bronx Assemblyman Michael Benedetto’s proposal to ban tackle football for kids under 14 would kill the sport.

However, Benedetto said he believes the measure could potentially prevent young kids from getting concussions, which run the risk of causing brain damage.

“Every time they’re hit, or every time they fall to the ground in a tackle, the brain will spin around in the head, causing damage,” Benedetto said.

Benedetto said he’s having a hard time getting support in the state Legislature. No state senators have stepped forward to sponsor the bill, which could keep it moving forward.

“I will continue to push this bill,” Benedetto said.

Eli Kaplan, an 18-year-old high school senior, said educating parents about concussions is better than a ban.

“I have gotten concussions before. It’s definitely dangerous, but in terms of work ethic it definitely builds that,” Kaplan said.

Kaplan told Moghe he stopped playing football last year after suffering from two concussions.

Benedetto also proposed a separate bill that would ban kids under the age of 14 from hitting soccer balls with their heads.

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