NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There’s now a proposed bill that would ban tackle football for children younger than 12.
It has become a hot-button issue among parents and coaches.
Should there be a ban? Well, it depends on who you ask. CBS2’s Andrea Grymes went up to Pelham in Westchester County on Tuesday and spoke to parents.
“I think all the sports are potentially injury ridden, so I don’t have a strong opinion. I mean, I let my kid play, with caution and reluctance sometimes,” Jennifer Reda said.
“I think certainly before the age of 12 kids are so brittle, they’re still developing, and they really don’t have the judgment or maturity necessarily to deal with that, so, yes, I firmly agree that they should ban tackle football under age 12,” Juan Carlos Navarro added.
When asked if the choice should be in the parents’ hands, Rodger Sadler said, “Yes, not in the state’s.”
New York parents may not have a choice for much longer.
A new bill proposed in the state Assembly would outlaw tackle football for children under the age of 12. The bill is named for John Mackey, a former NFL player from Long Island who later developed chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE due to repeated head injuries. He died in 2011.
“If we see and we believe that children are being put at risk for their brain development, well, maybe then it’s time for the state to step in. I do this as a last course of action,” Bronx Assemblyman Michael Benedetto said.
Benedetto and his colleagues heard testimony Tuesday from both sides on the legislation.
Those who support the ban point to studies about the effects of tackling on the brain.
“I am horrified by the rate at which we have diagnosed former football players, including friends of mine, with a degenerative brain disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE,” said Dr. Chris Nowinski of the Concussion Legacy Foundation.
“The science shows that football is a collision sport that can cause brain damage. The only debate now in the scientific community is how much,” the Foundation’s Julian Swearengen added.
But opponents, including USA Football, Pop Warner and others, argue the science isn’t there yet.
“The simple truth is we don’t know why some get CTE and others don’t,” said Dr. Mark Herceg of the Phelps Concussion Program.
They also say the equipment is better and the coaches are trained better than ever before.
“Most importantly, youth football is safer today than it has ever been,” said Pop Warner’s Jon Butler. “We’ve dramatically changed how we play and coach the game.”
At this point, the Assembly bill does not have a Senate sponsor, so no vote is expected anytime soon. It’s still very early in of the legislative process.
Opponents also argue that reductions have been made in the amount of contact young players make during practice.