KENILWORTH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A tackle football ban for kids under 12 could be coming to New Jersey.
A lawmaker is proposing a bill that would pave the way for that, but not everyone is on board.
John Braun has been practicing football with his son for more than a decade. The Kenilworth teen now plays on the high school varsity football team.
Braun says his son got this far with no injuries because of when he started.
“My son has been playing in our program since he was four years old,” said Braun, who runs the Kenilworth Youth Football League.
About 140 kids take part in the league, starting at 6 years old with flag football. When they hit 8, they begin to tackle.
“We teach the kids how to keep their heads up and out of the way of gaining that concussion,” Braun said.
He’s against the proposed ban that would prevent children under 12 years old from playing in organized tackle football programs. He said they use the earlier years to prepare kids so they don’t get hurt later on, and others agree.
“Give them good, sturdy equipment and they should be fine,” parent Tonie Jones said.
“When I was a kid, I used to run around and tackle everybody while playing football,” former player Jonathan Libock added.
But opposition won’t stop Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri-Huttle, who says it’s too risky to have kids this young tackling, since research shows their brains aren’t fully developed.
“Even with helmets, it can be detrimental,” she said.
Vainieri-Huttle just drafted the bill that, if passed, would also prevent school districts from allowing kids under 12 to play tackle football.
“We are not closing down football, but at least it starts the conversation, parents are aware of the risks,” she said.
“I think it’s a great idea,” one man said.
“Under 12, yes, I can see them banning that,” another added.
The assemblywoman said that similar bills have been proposed in New York, Maryland, Illinois and California.