SACRAMENTO (KPIX) — California lawmakers are considering a bill to ban minors from playing tackle football before high school.
The Safe Youth Football Act introduced earlier this week, comes amid increased scrutiny over the potential impact of football on developing brains.
Tregg Duerson, the son of former Bears star Steve Duerson backs the bill. His father had significant brain damage after he killed himself in 2011.
“We now know with certainty that part of the solution is to guard young children’s brains from the dangers of tackle football,” he says.
The bill will be introduced at the state capitol later this spring and encourages youth football leagues to play flag football instead. It’s authored by two lawmakers who cite medical studies on long-term brain trauma and CTE from the repeated tacking and hitting in football.
“The Golden State’s children need to know that no touchdown or interception is worth long-term damage to their brains caused by tackle football,” says Kevin McCarty, one of the bill’s authors, in a statement.
While many parents have raised concerns about their children playing football, Christine Jorgensen is not one of them. She has two sons that play youth and high school football in Yuba City and trusts that coaches are teaching them proper technique to keep them safe.
“If I was concerned I would not let them play,” she says. “They teach them how to tackle. They teach them how to hit with their head not their shoulders. So it’s a lot of stuff that goes into teaching a child to play football.”
Doing that, she says, puts her sons no more at risk playing football than her daughters, who do gymnastics and cheerleading.
“I have a daughter that cheers and she’s the one that’s thrown up into the air. And she falls and can get a concussion and broken bones just like a football player can,” she says.
If the bill passes, California will be the first state to place an age limit on youth tackle football. Illinois lawmakers are considering a similar bill.