New California bill aims to ban tackle football for kids under 12

New California bill aims to ban tackle football for kids under 12

SACRAMENTO — A new bill argues that tackle football should be banned for kids under 12-years-old in California.

Football’s biggest test may come in the California Assembly.

“It’s not even about concussions. It’s about repetitive hits to the brain,” said Assemblymember Kevin McCarty.

Boston University study published in August examining 152 athletes who were under 30 when they died showed 41% (63) had signs of CTE. The study shows that 87 of the 152 died by suicide, including 33 who also had CTE.  

That data led McCarty to author AB-734, which would outlaw tackle football for those under 12 statewide.

“If kids want to play tackle, wait until they get to puberty when their bodies are more developed,” McCarty said.

Youth football coaches are asking for more time after Assembly Bill 1’s passage in 2019 regulated contact football.

Coaches worry that players won’t know the right fundamentals and leave themselves prone to injury when the game actually starts. McCarty says that while flag football may be different, the risks may not be worth the reward.

“You can teach tackling once you get to 12 years of age when it’s fully developed,” he said. “There’s only one brain. There’s only one life, but it’s a game you can play forever.”

The bill will be heard in the California Assembly Arts, Entertainment, Sports and Tourism Committee of the state Legislature Wednesday morning. 

Andrew Haubner