A New York politician introduced legislation to ban kids younger than 11 from playing tackle football in the state — the first such proposal in the country.
“I want to protect the children,” assemblyman Michael Benedetto, a Democrat, told the New York Daily News. “I want them to get an appreciation of the game but I also don’t want them to come out of this wonderful sport in a damaged condition. I think the evidence is now out there that kind of warrants another look at youth activities.”
Before the Super Bowl, President Obama expressed his concerns in the midst of recent news coverage of concussions and brain injuries.
“I am a huge fan, but there is no doubt some of the concerns we’ve learned about when it comes to concussions have to give parents pause,” Obama told CBS.
Between 1991 and 2006, participation in youth-focused Pop Warner Football almost doubled from about 130,000 players to 260,000 players. Kids as young as 5 are allowed to tackle.
“This is absolutely the first we have heard of any state doing something like this,” John Butler, executive director of Pop Warner Football, told the Daily News. “Frankly, it is disturbing.”
The league enacted a concussion rule about a year ago, forcing kids who get injured to sit out and get a note from a doctor before returning to play.
Not everyone in the legislature agrees that the legislation is a touchdown, either.
“Talk about being out of bounds, not to mention out of touch,” Sen. Thomas O’Mara, R-Big Flats, said in a statement. “What we need to ban is knee-jerk legislation. What’s next? No more fastballs in Little League? Enough.”
Photo: R. Nelson/Getty Images