Should Tackle Football Begin With Teenage Years?

May 18, 2018

Trey Schneider of Parsippany is an 11-year old football player who does not want to see a ban on tackling
Credit Scott Pringle for WBGO News (used with parent's permission)

A New Jersey lawmaker has recently introduced a bill that bans children under the age of 12 from playing tackle football in the Garden State.

Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri-Huttle points to studies that show brain injuries at a young age can have devastating effects later in life. Her legislation would limit children under 12 to just flag or touch football.

Just the thought of tacking tackle out of one of America’s most popular sports has outraged Sal, who coaches his child. “It’s horrible, why would we let the politicians decide what our kids are allowed to play.”

11-year-old Trey Schneider says football is everything to him. “I think about it (concussion) every once in a while but in the games it doesn’t happen that much for our team at least.” He was asked if he would still play if tackle was taken out. “It wouldn’t just be as fun as playing the actual sport so, nah, I don’t think I would play that much anymore.”

Youth football player Trey Schneider of Parsipanny
Credit Scott Pringle for WBGO News (used with parent's permission)

Wilton Marto is the head of the youth football league in Parsippany, New Jersey. He says things have changed. All coaches get certified in concussion training and there’s new tackling techniques that have made the sport safer. “The motto for the program is heads up football, meaning your head is up and out of the play as opposed to the old days. Unfortunately, I think a lot of the players that were coached that we are seeing these studies on were taught an old school way which is put a helmet on him, get your head in here. That’s not the way these coaches are taught.”

Doctor Mark Rosenberg at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson says concussions, which have a lasting effect on a child’s brain, are still happening. “Every week several that will come in particularly after the weekend after playing football or soccer.” He was asked his opinion on the bill. “I think we need to be very cautious how we move forward with legislation to eliminate contact sports. We know there is a medical issue that’s potential and we know that to eliminate the sports also changes what America has been all about…so I think we need a lot more study.”

Fabio Perez of Jersey City doesn’t want his newborn playing football and supports the bill. “I love football. I am a big Patriots fan… at the same time, the child’s health and well being is more of a concern…stick to like non-contact sports.”

Assemblywoman Vainieri-Huttle admits her bill to ban children under the age of 12 from playing tackle football may not get by her colleagues in Trenton without some major debate and changes to it but she says her goal is raise awareness of the dangers of concussions in young children.

Click above to hear Scott Pringle's report.