Close this search box.

California Debates Ban on Youth Tackle Football for Kids Under 12

SACRAMENTO, California — The California State Legislature started discussions on Wednesday, January 10th, 2024, regarding a proposed bill that seeks to outlaw youth tackle football for children under the age of 12. Assembly Bill 734 (AB 734), was presented last year by Democrat Sacramento Assembly member Kevin McCarty.

McCarty, an advocate for flag football as a safer alternative, pointed out that even the National Football League (NFL) has incorporated flag football into certain situations. Last year, he emphasized the safety aspect, citing the NFL Pro Bowl in 2023, which was played as a flag football game for the well-being of the players. In a statement, McCarty expressed, “Why can’t we have that for our youth? AB 734 will help protect kids and nurture their brain development, and not put them in a situation that’s proven to cause irreparable harm.

The bill underwent its inaugural public hearing before the California State Assembly’s Arts, Entertainment, Sports, and Tourism Committee on Wednesday. Concerns over the potential for brain injury and trauma in youth athletes participating in tackle football have led public health experts to support such measures. Dr. Brian Feeley, Chief of the Division of Sports Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, emphasized the high-risk nature of tackle football for children under 12, citing an increased risk of concussions and adverse effects on mental health.

Recent research has also linked youth tackle football to an elevated risk of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disorder resulting from repeated head injuries. The Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and CTE Center found that those who played tackle football at an early age or for more than 11 years had less white matter in the brain, potentially leading to memory and behavior issues associated with CTE.

Despite these findings, some youth football coaches, such as Chewy Orr and Damon Gardner of the Oakland Dynamites, oppose the bill. They argue that other sports also carry injury risks and that flag football is not a suitable alternative due to lower participation numbers.

Follow Us