For those of you who are concerned about the future long-term viability of the very existence of football as we know it, you may want to read on. Over the course of the first three months of this year, there have been no fewer than four bills presented to state legislatures that have sought to ban tackle football at the youth level.
While a California bill proposed in early February drew the most attention, it was actually only the third such bill put forth by a state representative in 2018. The first came in New York in legislation billed as the John Mackey Youth Football Protection Act, which seeks to ban tackle football for children under the age of 12 in the state.
Another bill was proposed just a day later in Illinois that sought the exact same goal of banning tackle football for children under the age of 12 in that state. Termed the Dave Duerson Act to Prevent CTE, it cleared initial committee voting but has currently been withdrawn pending future amendments. Duerson was a former NFL player who committed suicide, shooting himself in the chest in order to preserve his brain, in which was found extensive CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, in his brain.
The California bill is titled the Safe Youth Football Act, and is the one that has been most-widely reported. It was the one that initially drew my attention and led me to the discovery of the several other bills that have been proposed at the state level in 10 percent of the country so far. The bill is expected to be considered this spring.
Just a day after the California bill was proposed, Maryland followed suit, hoping to prevent youth from participating in tackle football before they reach high school. The same bill also looks to curb activities such as headers in soccer and checking in lacrosse in youth sports. This bill was rejected a month later, however, and was campaigned against by a collection of signatures.
The forward momentum at the state level to curb tackle football for youths continues, however, and the most recent state to propose a bill tackle this matter is my own, New Jersey. Just a few days ago, legislation was introduced that would prohibit tackle football for those under the age of 12.
It is worth noting that all five of the states in which the bills were proposed to date have been those in which NFL teams operate. Illinois of course has the Chicago Bears, while California currently has the Oakland Raiders, the San Francisco 49ers, the Los Angeles Rams, and the Los Angeles Chargers. Maryland has the Baltimore Ravens, while New York has the Buffalo Bills and New Jersey houses the New York Giants and New York Jets.
While the wave of state bills proposed in the first quarter of 2018 is certainly worth noting, it’s unclear what happens at this point forward. If one of the bills passes, that will be huge news, and could lead to several other states proposing and possibly adopting similar laws.