California Gov. Newsom rejects proposed ban on youth tackle football

Newsom vowed he won't sign a bill that seeks to prohibit any child under the age of 12 from playing tackle football in the state.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Posted at 12:25 PM, Jan 18, 2024

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is rejecting a Democratic proposal that would have prohibited children from playing tackle football in the state.

Introduced by California Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, AB 734 aimed to protect young athletes from sustaining head injuries that could potentially cause lifelong harm — like CTE. McCarty cites a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that says youth tackle football athletes sustained 15 times more head impacts than flag football athletes during a practice or game.

The proposal, which would have banned tackle football for kids under the age of 12 by 2029, was poised for a vote in the California State Assembly later this month. But was shot down Tuesday by Newsom.

"I will not sign legislation that bans youth tackle football,” he said in a statement obtained by Politico. “I am deeply concerned about the health and safety of our young athletes, but an outright ban is not the answer.”

Study: Head impacts, not concussions, drive football-related CTE risk
Images showing that former NFL player Aaron Hernandez suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Study: Head impacts, not concussions, drive football-related CTE risk

The study also found that linemen were more prone to developing CTE than players at any other position.


The proposal rekindled a contentious debate over parental rights and who is ultimately allowed to make decisions for their kids. Ron White, founder of the California Youth Football Alliance, said the bill is just another example of government overreach.

"It is just one more overreaching moment for what is already an over-regulated state," he said. 

While Newsom said he would not sign the proposal into law, he pledged to continue working with lawmakers to bolster child safety in sports while also protecting parental freedoms.

"We will consult with health and sports medicine experts, coaches, parents, and community members to ensure California maintains the highest standards in the country for youth football safety,” Newsom said. “We owe that to the legions of families in California who have embraced youth sports."