BOSTON (WHDH) - Backers of a state law that would ban tackle football before the 8th grade said the measure was necessary to protect vulnerable brains at a public hearing at the State House Tuesday, but opponents said parents should make their own decisions.
If the bill is approved, Massachusetts would become the first state in the country to pass a bill banning tackle football for that age group. Schools that violated the law would be fined $2,000 for a first offences, $5,000 for a second offense and $10,000 if the violation resulted in an injury.
State Rep. Paul Schmid, D-Fall River, said the bill was necessary in light of recent research.
“Hits to the head are bad and the sooner they start, the younger you are when you start, the worse it is for you,” said Schmid, a co-sponsor of the bill.
Boston University researchers found kids who start playing football at age 5 are 10 times more likely to get the brain disease CTE than kids who start playing at 14. One of the researchers backed the proposed ban.
“If we’re going to do something, let’s start with the most vulnerable brains,” said Dr. Robert Stern.
And a New York woman testified that damage at a young age can last through adulthood. Angela Campigotto-Harrison said her father, Joe Campigotto, died with CTE after playing football when he was a young boy.
‘After seeing what happened to my dad … it’s something I have to do as a mom, as someone who had a family member who was a victim of this disease,” Campigotto-Harrison said of her testimony.
But officials from youth football organizations said the bill was restrictive.
“Parents do not want their government telling them when their kids can play football. They want to make informed decisions for themselves,” said Scott Hallenbeck, CEO of USA Football.
The bill will remain in committee.
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