Massachusetts Lawmakers Introduce Bill To Ban Youth Football

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Greg Price Contributor
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A bipartisan duo of state lawmakers in Massachusetts have introduced legislation to ban children 7th grade and under from playing tackle football as a way to protect them from brain injuries, such as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).

H.2007, “An Act For No Organized Head Impacts to School Children,” was introduced by Democratic Rep. Paul A. Schmid from Bristol and Republican Rep. Bradley H. Jones from Middlesex and brought up for a hearing Tuesday by the legislature’s committee on Public Health. (RELATED: Study: Nearly 90 Percent Of Football Players Show Signs Of Brain Disease)

The bill states: “No child in grade seven or under shall play, practice, or otherwise participate in organized tackle football; provided however, that nothing within this section shall prohibit children in grade seven or under from playing, practicing, or otherwise participating in any form of football which does not involve tackling.” It imposes penalties of up to $5,000 for “any school, league or other entity” that allows children 7th grade and below to play.

Ever since the link was first cited between American football and CTE, the game has been under scrutiny by parents and medical professionals for the potential for long-lasting head injuries. Supporters of the Massachusetts bill released a video saying that “football is to CTE like smoking is to lung cancer,” reports ABC7.

Many parents support the bill. Angela Harrison, whose father died from dementia at 65 as a result of football-related injuries, testified to the committee on behalf of Attleboro mother Jessica Stanley, whose 14-year-old son took his own life after sustaining 25 concussions from football:

“I had no idea about the long-term effects of the hundreds of hits that my son was taking and sustaining each season. Knowing what I know now, I never would have exposed my son and his developing brain to tackle football at the age of 6.”

Critics have called the bill an overreach. Paul Dauderis of the Massachusetts Youth Football Alliance told the Boston Herald that “banning youth football is a tremendous overreach into the rights of parents to allow their kids to play a game.”

It would be the first bill of its kind ever passed in the United States of America.