February 19, 2023
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Children under the age of 13 would no longer be able to participate in organized tackle football if a group of state legislators get their way.
A recently introduced bill would prohibit kids under 13 from participating in organized tackle football and leave schools or leagues open to civil penalties if they allow children to participate in the sport.
In 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a study that found youth athletes who play tackle football experience more frequent and more severe head impacts than their counterparts playing flag football.
Kids playing tackle football experience a median of 378 head impacts per athlete during the season while those playing flag football only experienced a median of eight head impacts per athlete during the season, according to the CDC.
Their study found that kids between the age of 6 and 14 experienced 15 times more head impacts and 23 times more hard head impacts when playing tackle football versus flag football.
Injuries sustained by head impacts can negatively impact kids’ development, health, thinking and behavior leading to long-term impacts, according to the CDC.
For that reason, New York lawmakers want to prohibit kids from participating in youth tackle football if they’re under the age of 13.
In an interview with the New York Post, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto (D-Bronx), a longtime backer of the legislation, pointed to sports, like soccer and hockey, that have banned heading and body checks for kids under 10 and 13 years old as cause for the bill.
“Football hasn’t done that yet and so when they don’t do it, there’s a responsibility of us in government to try to protect those kids,” he told the tabloid.
Officially known as the “John Mackey Youth Football Protection Act,” the legislation is named for a former NFL player who died with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). If it passes, it would take effect immediately.
Prior versions of the bill have been introduced in the Assembly, but it now has a counterpart in the New York Senate introduced by Sen. Luis Sepúlveda (D-Bronx).