Bill introduced to ban youth tackle football in NY State sparks debate

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ALBANY, N.Y. — New York State lawmakers have reintroduced a bill that would ban tackle football for children 12 and under.

It’s been a subject of debate over the last ten years, recently reignited after Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin’s serious injury on the field, says our Albany affiliate WNYT.

However, the football group Schenectady-Belmont PopWarner group doesn’t agree with the proposed bill, saying their players don’t even put on a uniform before learning the rules of football.

Watching NFL stars play the game, especially during the upcoming Super Bowl, inspires kids to want to do the same. But there’s a lot of controversy behind it.

“While the Super Bowl is an awful lot of fun, it’s not fun when you see young children who run around, play a game that they are hitting their heads dozens, hundreds of times a week,” said Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, who represents the Bronx.

Benedetto is pushing a bill that would ban tackle football for kids in New York State. A local football club says teaching kids the right technique at a young age sets them up for greatness.

“You get a lot faster, you get bigger, you get stronger. without the proper techniques on how to tackle and how to hit, then you can really see a lot of injuries on that level,”  said Billy Kent of Schenectady-Belmont PopWarner football.

Kent says having the right coaches who understand and preach safety is key.

“All the coaches are certified, they have to go through a certain amount of training in order to be able to teach these things to the kids,” Kent said.

Benedetto and his senate co-sponsor, Luis Sepulveda shared research that shows the serious consequences hits to the head can have on players.

A St. Peter’s Sports Medicine Physican says concussions are always a higher risk in any contact sport. Dr. Thomas Chattathil says one of the positives of playing as a kid is developing the skills but, it’s ultimately up to the parent to decide what’s best:

“It depends on how you train your child, and how much confidence you have in your child in their ability to keeping themselves safe,” Chattathil said.