Bill Filed to Prevent Mass. Youth from Playing Tackle Football
BOSTON — A bill put forward by two Massachusetts state representatives would ban children from playing organized tackle football until the eighth grade.
The bill, filed by Rep. Bradley Jones of North Reading and Rep. Paul Schmid of Westport, cites head injuries like concussions as the main reason for its filing.
Rep. Schmid says the inspiration for the bill came from a trip to California to visit his granddaughter. While watching her play soccer, he says he noticed that none of the students on the athletic fields were making head contact.
"I did a little bit of research and I found that youth hockey, youth lacrosse, and youth soccer all prohibit blows to the head until about the age of 13 or 14," said Schmid.
Instead of a full-contact sport, Schmid says children can play flag or touch-football, where physical contact is minimized.
"If you're playing tackle football at a young age, you're exposing yourself to blows to the head which, we're finding more and more, are not good," said Schmid. "There's a lot of science about this that blows to the head are bad."
The proposal would impose a $2,000 fine for each violation.
Opponents of the bill say there are already rules in place that prohibit head-contact in youth football. Schmid says he's open to less stringent measures.
"Government doesn't want to be involved in kids sports. That's not what government should be doing. I'd be very happy to rethink my bill if we saw some changes happening. That's all we're trying to do. We're not trying to hurt football in any way. We're just trying to protect kids."
The bill has yet to be assigned to a committee in the Legislature.