PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A new bill in New Jersey would ban children under the age of 12 to play tackle football.
Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle introduced the bill last week. The bill prohibits children under the age of 12 from participating in organized tackle football programs.
“Under the bill, children under the age of 12 will not be permitted to participate in tackle football offered by a youth sports team organization,” the bill reads, adding, “The bill also provides that a school district may not permit a student under the age of 12 to participate in tackle football during interscholastic athletics, intramural athletics, a physical education program, or any athletic activity offered to students.”
In the legislation, Huttle cited studies on Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, and how young children playing tackle football are “associated with a greater risk of neurological impairment” than those who play after the age of 12.
“Athletes who begin playing contact sports at younger ages are at a greater risk for neurological impairment later in life, including CTE,” the bill reads.
In a statement to CBS Philly, Huttle says some former NFL players agree that children should not play tackle football until high school.
“Children aren’t allowed to accept the risks of smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol, so it defies logic to let them accept the dangers that football may present as well,” said Huttle.
Bob Schleicher, a youth football coach in Washington Township, says better equipment and improved techniques help, along with strict safety protocol. He believes you’ll see more injuries if you wait to teach tackle to older children, who are bigger and faster.
“If he learns properly at a younger level, it’s going to be much more beneficial than trying to grasp it at an older age,” says Schleicher.
New York, California, Illinois and Maryland have proposed similar legislation.
A study revealed last year that 99 percent of deceased NFL players’ brains that were donated to scientific research were found to have CTE – 110 out of 111 brains.
The study also found CTE in three of the 14 donated brains of high school players.