California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has promised to veto a California bill that bans youth tackle football.
Assembly Bill 734 would ban youth sports organizations from letting children 6 or younger play tackle football beginning next year. In 2027, the bill would raise the age on the ban to 10, and in 2029, it would raise it to 12.
“I will not sign legislation that bans youth tackle football. I am deeply concerned about the health and safety of our young athletes, but an outright ban is not the answer,” Newsom said in a statement emailed to The Hill on Wednesday. “My administration will work with the Legislature and the bill’s author to strengthen safety in youth football — while ensuring parents have the freedom to decide which sports are most appropriate for their children.”
“As part of that process, 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 continued.
A study published about two years ago in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found no link between youth tackle football and cognitive or behavioral problems, despite recent concerns about head injuries in the sport.
But in 2017, another study published in JAMA came to the conclusion that 21% of high school football players had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a notable brain disease linked to traumas to the head.
Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre has said in a public service announcement that children should be kept out of tackle football at least until their mid-teens.
“Having kids play before high school is just not worth the risk,” Favre said in a statement. ”CTE is a terrible disease, and we need to do everything we can to prevent it for the next generation of football players.”