California Bill Would Prohibit Minors from Playing Tackle Football Before HS

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2018

Pelham High School football field is seen, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016, where  Clemson football head coach Dabo Swinney attend high school, in Pelham, Ala. Clemson will now play Alabama in the NCAA college football championship game on Monday. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

Lawmakers in California have proposed a bill that would prohibit minors from playing organized tackle football before they're freshmen in high school.

The legislation, titled the "Safe Youth Football Act," was proposed by Democrats Kevin McCarty and Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher.

"The science is clear: head injuries sustained at a young age can harm kids for the rest of their lives," Gonzalez Fletcher said in a statement, according to the Los Angeles TimesPatrick McGreevy. "Developing skills through flag football before high school is sound public policy from a health and safety standpoint."

Last August, the California Interscholastic Federation released findings that showed a 3.12 percent drop in high school football participation year-over-year and a 10 percent dip over the last 10 years, according to the San Francisco Chronicle's Ann Killion.

As Killion noted, the "decreases in participation coincide with elevated concerns about concussions and brain injuries associated with football."

Those concerns were highlighted in a study published by Dr. Ann McKee in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which showed the degenerative brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) had been found posthumously in the brains of 110 of 111 former NFL players studied.

The NFL also announced last month there were 281 reported concussions in 2017, a 15.6 percent increase over the league's five-year average, according to USA Today's Lindsay H. Jones and Lorenzo Reyes.

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