Boston, MA– Yesterday, parents and kids rallied in front of the Massachusetts State House to protest a proposed statewide ban on tackle football for children in seventh grade and below, reports WHDH. The protesters were joined by former Patriots linebacker and All-Pro player Andre Tippett, as well as former Philadelphia Eagles player Terrance Turner. Both pro football players pointed to the life skills that kids can learn from playing football.
Tippett said: “I’m just a little disappointed that someone would want to take the parents’ rights away from allowing to choose to let their kid play tackle football.”
Turner added his own perspective on the growing awareness of safety in the game. He said, “I think it’s safer than its ever been. We know that you must teach these kids the right way [to play] earlier.”
Under the proposed legislation called the No HITS Act, for which no legislative hearing has yet been scheduled, children in seventh grade or younger would be banned from playing tackle football, and schools or leagues that violate this restriction would pay a fine of $2,000.
Rep. Paul Schmid (D-Westport), a sponsor of the bill, has emphasized that they're not recommending a total ban on football for these young children. Schmid elaborated: "We're not banning football. Touch football, flag football, great. Up through the seventh grade, go to it. What we're saying is, for seventh grade and under, no tackle football." Lawmakers cite evidence that children who play tackle football before the age of 12 are more likely to display behavioral or cognitive issues later on.
But many parents are upset that the state is getting involved at all, arguing that it infringes on their right as parents to decide what’s best for their kids. Children and parents at yesterday’s rally held signs saying “Kill the Bill” and “Save Youth Football.”
Massachusetts is not the only state considering some sort of a ban on tackle football, but so far none have been enacted, despite growing concerns around the long-term impacts of head injuries and concussions.