Protecting Our Young Athletes: The Push for a Ban on Tackle Football for Children Under 12 in California

Tackle football is a physically demanding sport that involves high-impact collisions and tackles. Young children, whose bodies are still developing and growing, are particularly vulnerable to the risks associated with this sport. Research has shown that children under the age of 12 have a higher risk of sustaining concussions and other serious injuries while playing tackle football. The developing brain of a child is more susceptible to long-term damage from repeated blows to the head, which can lead to neurological disorders later in life.

Proposed legislation in California aims to prohibit children under the age of 12 from joining tackle football leagues.

The sponsor of AB 734 is Assemblymember Kevin McCarty. He is arguing that the bill is crucial in order to avoid causing avoidable harm and distress to a child’s brain.

According to a research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it was found that youth football players in tackle positions experienced 15 times more head impacts during a practice or game compared to those playing flag football. This study was published and revealed that the risk of head impact was significantly higher in tackle football as compared to flag football.

The growing body of research supporting a ban on tackle football for children under 12 cannot be ignored. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that delaying the age at which children are allowed to play tackle football could significantly reduce the risk of long-term brain damage. The study recommended that tackle football should be postponed until the age of 14, when the brain is more developed and better equipped to handle the physical demands of the sport.

In research presented to lawmakers, they have been informed that the human brain does not reach full development until a person is in their twenties.

According to McCarty, there are specific activities that are not suitable for children. McCarty believes that playing tackle football can be dangerous for kids under 12 as it involves repeated impact to the head and he is taking action to prevent injuries in children.

The commissioner of Sacramento Youth Football, Jay Erhart, is taking on the lawmakers stance and says there is opposition against McCarty’s proposal and their organization intends to challenge it.

According to Erhart’s statement to a California TV station, out of the 9,000 children who participated last year, only a small number of less than 20 were required to undergo return-to-play protocol due to concussions.

The California Youth Football Alliance has expressed strong opposition to the bill, citing the state’s existing strict safety measures for youth athletes. According to Ron White, the organization’s founder, the government’s interference with AB 734 is excessive.

According to White, this is yet another example of the state overstepping its boundaries, as it is already heavily regulated.

Implementing a ban on tackle football for children under 12 would undoubtedly have a significant impact on the sports community. While some may argue that it would hinder the development of young athletes, the long-term benefits of protecting their health and well-being far outweigh any potential drawbacks. By shifting the focus towards safer sports and emphasizing skill development rather than physical contact, we can create an environment that fosters growth and enjoyment without compromising the safety of our young athletes.

The push for legislation and policy changes regarding tackle football for young children is gaining momentum across the country. Lawmakers and advocacy groups are recognizing the need to protect our young athletes and are working towards implementing bans or restrictions on tackle football for children under 12. These legislative efforts are aimed at raising awareness about the risks associated with the sport and promoting safer alternatives that prioritize the well-being of our children.

Several cities and states are looking into initiatives to implement a ban or restrictions on tackle football for young children. With the start of California’s movement to prohibit children under 12 from participating in tackle football, many additional states may join in the change to tackle football at a young age. The proactive approach has been met with support from many medical professionals, and parents who recognize the importance of safeguarding the health of young athletes.