Lawmaker considers bill to ban kids from playing tackle football

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BRIDGEWATER -

A New Jersey assemblywoman says she is in the early stages of introducing a bill that would bar children under the age of 12 from playing tackle football.

Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle says that her proposal is in order to ensure the safety of the children playing.

“It creates a dialogue and I think parents should be aware of the risks,” she says.

Huttle says that studies show that children’s brains are still forming at a young age.

“The constant head impacts can create injuries now or later on,” she says.

But there are many parents and coaches who do not agree with her proposed bill.

Mother Mary Hall says that both of her teenaged sons have played football most of their lives.

“The fact that the trainers are constantly on top of them, that coaches are on top of them, makes me feel a lot safer,” Hall says. “I also have cheerleaders and I think they got hurt just as much as the football players."

Some say that while they understand the risks involved in football, it should be the parents, and not the government, who decide whether or not a child should play.

Bridgewater-Raritan High School head football coach Scot Bray says that starting children playing football at a younger age can even keep them safer, by teaching them proper technique early on. He also says that football is safer now than it has ever been.

“They made football safer, even with helmets and teaching different tackling techniques and taking a lot of hitting out of practice,” he says.

Huttle says that her bill is in the early stages and that her goal is to start a conversation. She says that other states are considering similar legislation.

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