With concussions becoming more common, there has been a lot of talk about how to make football safer over the past several years.
One idea that often gets thrown around is limiting kids’ exposure to the sport until they reach a certain age that football can be considered ‘safe,’ at least relatively speaking. Some legislators in California evidently believe in that idea and have proposed a bill that would ban organized tackle football until high school, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times.
The legislators cited multiple studies showing that exposure to tackle football at an early age can lead to increased risk of brain damage later in life. In fact, while concussions understandably garner most of the headlines, it’s not just those knee-buckling helmet-to-helmet hits that put players — particularly kids — at risk. Studies have shown that even smaller, sub-concussive hits can lead to long-term problems such as depression, among other neurological issues.
As a more progressive state, it’s not surprising that California is leading the charge in proposing a bill such as this one. While it is difficult to see a similar bill being proposed, let alone passed, in some of the United States’ more football-obsessed states — such as those in the SEC — bills of this nature seem to be the way the country is trending on the whole.
With terms like CTE having entered the lexicon, football fans and players alike have never been more aware of the potentially damaging effects the sport can have on those who play it. So while some will likely find a reason to push back against bills like this — typically using the ‘it should be a parent’s decision’ argument — it does not seem unwise to be proactive about issues like this, especially when we’re talking about the long-term mental health of children, especially since the kids’ themselves probably don’t have a completely accurate understanding of the risks that coming along with playing tackle football at such an early age.