Democrats in the Maryland state house are pushing to football and other contacts sports for elementary and middle school aged children from any public grounds in the state.
State Senator William C. Smith Jr., has introduced the bill, the Baltimore Sun reports.
“I love football. I watched through this season and last season, and even through all of the other tumult of the NFL,” Smith said. “I think football’s here to stay, but if we can do small things to ensure that people are fully prepared to engage in football, which is inherently a dangerous sport, I think that’s a worthy cause.”
“This is about a vulnerable population and developing brains,” Maryland Delegate Terri Hill said. “It’s a public health issue.”
Football, soccer, lacrosse and hockey are all considered “contact sports” that could lead to head trauma.
Smith told reporters his bill wouldn’t mean the end of youth sports. “I assure you that football will still be played elsewhere, but its a recognition from the state and the counties that we dont want to facilitate an activity that we know is detrimental to the development of children,” he said.
Democrats dominate the state legislature in Maryland, with a large enough majority to override vetoes from Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.
“The bill would not ban full-contact sports in private leagues, but such games would have to be played on private property. Private leagues that permit tackling, heading or checking before the high school level would not qualify to rent public facilities,” the Baltimore Sun reported.
The NFL is facing mounting pressure to make the game less violent in the wake of the discovery of the impact on the brain by Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, CTE, and its role in the poor health of former players.