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Protecting young brains: Ban on tackle football for kids under 12 regains attention

As concerns surrounding player safety continue to grow in the world of football, a bill that would ban children under 12 from playing tackle football is receiving renewed attention. New York State Assembly bill A04116, introduced by Senator Luis Sepulveda, is the tenth attempt to push the legislation. The recent hospitalization of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin has once again sparked conversations around player health.

According to a recent poll conducted by the Siena College Research Institute and St. Bonaventure University, seven out of ten people support rules to make football safer. Additionally, 71% of football fans believe that doctors, who are not paid by football teams, should make the decision on whether an injured player can re-enter the game.

DiSanto Propane (Billboard)

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disease caused by repeated head trauma, is one of the neurological injuries that fans believe should be prevented through new rules. In a 2017 study, the brains of 202 deceased football players, including 111 NFL players, were examined and 87% of the players were diagnosed with CTE, with 99% of the NFL players being diagnosed as well.

The recent case of Demaryius Thomas, an NFL wide receiver who died in December 2021 and was later revealed to have suffered from CTE, highlights the serious implications of repeated head trauma. Thomas was dealing with depression and anxiety before his death.

This proposed ban on tackle football for children under 12 comes a month after Damar Hamlin suffered from cardiac arrest during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. As the discussion around player safety and the impact of football on player health continues, this bill is gaining traction as a solution to protect young brains.