States consider banning kids' tackle football games

Maryland and other states are considering banning tackle football and other high-impact sports for children, citing injury concerns.
By Rick Docksai | Dec 04, 2018

Tackle football may soon be prohibited from middle- and high-school sports in some parts of the country. Maryland, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York are all considering legislation that would ban tackle football from public schools and parks for children and would restrict physical contact in other youth sports. The bills' proponents argue that they are the only way to protect kids from sports-related head trauma and other serious injuries.

"The question becomes: Do you really want us to err on the side of caution, or on the side of favoring a tradition?" said Maryland Delegate Terri Hill, who introduced a ban proposal in the Maryland state legislature last week.

Hill noted that lawmakers in past eras intervened to start requiring football players to wear helmets and body padding. The earliest football players wore thin leather "helmets" or no head covering at all.

Hill's measure would require young people playing football on public land or with publicly funded sports leagues to play two-hand-touch games only. It would similarly limit physical contact in lacrosse, hockey, and soccer games, as well.

Hill, who was a plastic surgeon before she ran for office, argued that young people are more vulnerable to brain and neck trauma than adult athletes are as "the neck muscles aren't developed well." She said that a helmet may protect its young wearer from a skull fracture but "it doesn't protect them from the brain flopping back and forth inside the skull."

Illinois is reviewing legislation to ban tackle football for all children ages 12 and under, while New Jersey and New York have measures under debate that would ban it for children under 12. California's legislature had a bill to ban tackle football for children under 12, but one of the cosponsors withdrew it before it could get a vote.


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