Children under 12 could be barred from tackle football in California

Assemblymember Kevin McCarty introduced AB 734 in the California legislature, saying it will prevent "unnecessary injury and trauma."
Youth football players
Posted at 2:31 PM, Jan 10, 2024

California lawmakers are taking up a bill that would bar children under 12 years old from participating in tackle football leagues. 

Assemblymember Kevin McCarty is the author of AB 734. He insists the bill is necessary to prevent "unnecessary injury and trauma" to a child's brain. 

He 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.

Lawmakers have also been presented research that shows the human brain does not fully develop until a person is in their 20s. 

"There are certain things that just aren't safe for younger people," McCarty told TV station KCRA in Sacramento. "Banging your brains around for little kids just isn't safe."

McCarty's bill is facing some pushback. The commissioner for Sacramento Youth Football told KCRA that his organization will fight the bill. 

"With over 9,000 kids last year, we had less than 20 kids that went into return-to-play protocol for concussions," Jay Erhart told the TV station. 

The California Youth Football Alliance has also come out strongly against the bill, noting that the state already has strict protocols for keeping youth athletes safe. Ron White, founder of the organization, says AB 734 is overreach by the government. 

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

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.