Parents, coaches battling proposed CA law that would ban tackle football for kids

David González Image
Tuesday, January 9, 2024
Proposed California law would ban tackle football for kids
The bill's author says kids under 12 should play flag football - just like they do at the NFL Pro Bowl.

Youth football leagues, coaches, parents and players are fighting to stop a California Assembly bill that would ban kids under 12 from playing tackle football.

Steve Famiano spearheads Save Youth Football - California Coalition.

"I can't imagine kids of any age being restricted from doing any activity," Famiano said. "It would make kids playing youth football in California illegal. It would make it a crime which I can't even fathom a child playing football is a crime."

Sacramento Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, who represents the 6th District, introduced AB 734 last year.

He said the bill protects kids from possible brain injury and trauma associated with playing tackle football.

"Flag football is an alternative that is safer for youth and can still give them the opportunity to learn the skills to be successful at tackle football later in life," he said. "The 2023 NFL Pro Bowl was a flag football game for the safety of the players. Why can't we have that for our youth?"

The coalition argues parents need to have a choice.

"That's a decision that we believe should not be in our statehouse. It should be in our houses and let us decide," Famiano said.

The bill will be discussed during a committee meeting on Wednesday.

Save Youth Football said lawmakers have more important things to worry about.

Famiano said, "We don't see the need to continue this debate onto our full Assembly of 80 lawmakers in California. This is not a debate I think our state should be kicking off 2024 with."

In 2019 Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the California Youth Football Act which set a long list of safety requirement for kids playing tackle football.

They include having EMTs at every game and limiting full contact during practice to one hour a week.