Bill to Ban Tackle Football For Under 12 Youth Heard in Assembly

An overall ban on youth contact before the age of 12 has failed before in the state

Assemblyman Kevin McCarty. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)


A bill to ban tackle football for children under the age of 12 in California was finally brought up before the Assembly Arts, Entertainment, Sports and Tourism Committee on Wednesday after almost a year of not advancing through the legislature.

Assembly Bill 734, authored by Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), would prohibit youth sports organizations that conduct a tackle football program, or a youth tackle football league, from allowing a person younger than 12 years of age to be a youth tackle football participant through the organization or league. Should the bill pass, the law would begin to take effect beginning in January 2026.

Assemblyman McCarty wrote the bill last year because of increased concerns over youth football injuries, as well growing concerns with head injuries at a younger age. Specifically. McCarty cited several studies in support of his bill. These included a 2022 United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) study finding that chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is caused by repeated traumatic brain injuries, a Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) pointing to higher head injuries amongst younger athletes, and a Boston University study confirming a link between CTE, suicide, and early in life head injuries caused by athletics.

“Flag football is an alternative that is safer for youth and can still give them the opportunity to learn the skills to be successful at tackle football later in life,” said the Assemblyman last year. “The 2023 NFL Pro Bowl was a flag football game for the safety of the players. Why can’t we have that for our youth? AB 734 will help protect kids and nurture their brain development, and not put them in a situation that’s proven to cause irreparable harm.”

In a statement made earlier this month, McCarty added, “It’s not even about concussions. It’s about repetitive hits to the brain. If kids want to play tackle, wait until they get to puberty when their bodies are more developed. You can teach tackling once you get to 12 years of age when it’s fully developed. There’s only one brain. There’s only one life, but it’s a game you can play forever. There are certain things that just aren’t safe for younger people. Banging your brains around for little kids just isn’t safe. It’s a high school sport. It’s going to be an Olympic sport. There is no way you can do a safe sport of 9, 10, 11 year-olds.”

SB 734 heard after 11 months

While many health officials and early childhood development experts agreed with McCarty and supported the bill, many other pointed to flaws in the bill. Many youth sports officials worried that the ban would lead to players not being ready for when tackle football then begins and said that more injuries could occur as a result of not being ready. Others pointed out an overall lack of similar injuries amongst youth players as well as what the effects it would have on poorer and at-risk athletes who rely on football at a young age to keep active in a positive way.

“We have had to fight it all three times, and I can tell you we will fight it again,” added Sacramento Youth Football Commissioner Jay Erhart in a statement. “The league has changed rules for less contact at practices and made the sport safer with equipment. With over 9,000 kids last year, we had less than 20 kids that went into return-to-play protocol for concussions. It’s going to just disenfranchise kids. Those kids in our most needed communities, inner city, our rural communities are going to miss out on a lot, a lot of life lessons as well.”

Jamal Lawrence, a youth football coach in Los Angeles, also said that “When I grew up in LA in the late 80s, you know, football was the escape. And I’m talking about bloods and crips. The reason many managed to stay out was because of sports. Football in particular. Many were looking for that outlet, and full-on tackle football was that for many who would have otherwise moved towards other activities that aren’t exactly legal, if you know what I mean. I know. I was close myself, but I stuck with football.

“And today, it still is for many. Part of that appeal is to act real physical on the field. A lot of young kids need this, and they would just not do it if it was flag football. We are already having a hard time attracting young people in. We’re seeing declines nationwide in youth football participation because of head injury worries. We’ve been doing everything to address that. This thing in Sacramento, it would only hurt us further.”

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

California proposal to ban tackle football clears first legislative hurdle

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California could become the first state to ban tackle football for children under 12 to reduce the risk of brain injuries under a bill that cleared a key legislative hurdle on Wednesday.

FILE – Pop Warner football players look on before an NFL pre-season football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the San Diego Chargers Friday, Sept. 4, 2009 in San Diego. The California Legislature is considering a bill that would ban tackle football for children under 12. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy, File)

A legislative committee voted 5-2 during a public hearing to advance the bill authored by Democratic Assemblymember Kevin McCarty. But the measure is a long way from passing. It must clear the state Assembly by the end of January to have a chance of becoming law this year.

Advocates say the bill will protect kids from the risk of brain damage, which studies have shown increases the longer a person plays tackle football. But coaches and other football advocates say the ban would cut off kids from a source of exercise and an important after-school activity.

No state has banned tackle football for kids. McCarty introduced a similar bill in 2018 that failed to pass. Other proposals in New York and Illinois also failed to pass. The California proposal still has many steps to go through in the Legislature before it could become law.

“Football and organizational sports in general are clearly proven ways to keep kids out of trouble,” said Assemblymember Mike Gipson, chair of the state assembly’s committee in charge of regulating sports in California. “This bill is not taking away that ability, it is simply saying that we’re going to move from tackle football to flag football and we can still have the same learning experiences.”

McCarty told the committee Wednesday that, if approved, the measure would set rules to protect the brains of the youngest children and join measures that already regulate other contact sports in the state.

“Just like we have (rules) for soccer that you can’t head before a certain age in California, and in hockey that you can’t check before a certain age, (the bill) says to our youngest kids, ‘you can play flag football under 12 and over 12 you start having contact.’”

If passed, the ban would be gradually phased in, prohibiting children under 6 starting in 2025, under 10 in 2027 and those under 12 in 2029.

Flag football has been gaining popularity nationwide, especially for girls. The sport has provided scholarship opportunities for female players, with around two dozen NAIA schools fielding women’s teams in 2023 and more schools planning to join in upcoming seasons.

The NFL has promoted flag football, helping it to become an Olympic sport that will be included in the LA Games in 2028. The league has set up camps, clinics, a circuit and even exhibitions through its NFL FLAG program, which serves kids between the ages of 4 and 17.

According to research by USA Football, more than 1 million kids between the ages of 6 and 12 played the sport in 2022.

Research has shown tackle football causes brain damage, and the risk increases the longer people play football, said Chris Nowinski, CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation and former Harvard football player and WWE professional wrestler. It can cause chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, which kills nerve cells in the brain.

“I don’t have a problem with NFL players, who are adults and understand the risk and are compensated, risking CTE,” Nowinski said. “I can’t imagine a world in which we have children, who don’t understand the risk, doing this for fun (and) taking the same risk with their brain.”

California law already bans full-contact practices for high school and youth football teams during the offseason and limits them to two practices per week during the preseason and regular season. A law that took effect in 2021 also requires youth football officials to complete concussion and head injury education in addition to other safeguards.

Ron White, president of the California Youth Football Alliance, said the measure is misguided and discriminatory because if passed, it will greatly impact underserved communities. White also said the science on CTE is constantly evolving.

Click here to read the full article in AP News

Youth tackle football targeted for ban in California

Two California lawmakers want to outlaw tackle football leagues until teenagers reach high school, saying delaying the start of high-contact elements of football would protect young people from long-term brain damage.

Children can learn the skills they need to succeed at the sport from non-contact flag football, Democratic Assembly members Kevin McCarty of Sacramento and Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher of San Diego said in announcing their legislation on Thursday.

Their bill follows similar legislation under consideration in Illinois and New York. Legislation has been introduced several times since 2013 in New York but has not gained traction.

In Illinois, the Dave Duerson Act to Prevent CTE is named for the Chicago Bears defensive back who was diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy after he killed himself at 50. …

Click here to read the full article from the Sacramento Bee

President Trump Slaughters the NFL

Trump NFLIn youth sports there is something known as the “slaughter rule” which stops contests when one team is hopelessly behind the other – being slaughtered. In Little League baseball the rule is invoked when one team is ahead by 11 runs. In Pop Warner, middle school and some high school football the rule is activated when a team is ahead by 35 or more points.

If the showdown between President Trump and the NFL over players kneeling during the national anthem were a sporting event, the slaughter rule would have been invoked long ago. NFL attendance is down, television ratings are down, and as a result income is down. The NFL is getting slaughtered and it couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of guys.

President Trump once again showed his ability to correctly judge public attitudes when he said that players who knelt during the anthem were “SOBs who should be fired.” Liberal heads exploded, of course, but as with so many topics the president may have been unartful in his words – but was spot-on in expressing what millions of Americans felt. Personally, I don’t think SOBs was strong enough language, and wish he had used his description of Haiti to describe the players’ brains. The NFL came to the defense of Colin Kaepernick and the other players who were symbolically burning the flag. They attacked the president in vile terms. The league has been getting slaughtered since and deservedly so.

Since the anti-police, anti-military, anti-anthem, unemployed but multi-millionaire quarterback Colin Kaepernick started his kneeling stunt, in-stadium attendance for regular season games is down over 14%. Sympathetic television networks, attempting to hide the huge swatches of empty seats, stopped taking “long shots” of stadiums. Shots from the Goodyear blimp became either close-ups of the field or such long shots that the viewer can’t discern the empty seats from the occupied ones.

The drop-off has been particularly noticeable during the playoffs since there are fewer games to monitor. For instance, the NFL had a disastrous first playoff weekend when it came to ratings. As Sports Illustrated (a Kaepernick apologist and supporter of anthem-kneeling) was forced to admit, “numbers have been down all season and it was more of the same for the wild-card games. Titans-Chiefs viewership was down 11%, Falcons-Rams was down 10%, Bills-Jaguars was down 10%, and Panthers-Saints was down 21%.”

Television networks sell ads far in advance based on guaranteed ratings. When those ratings fall short the networks have to refund advertiser dollars. So far this year the ratings drop has cost networks tens of millions of dollars in refunds.

The numbers didn’t get any better as the playoff’s progressed. “Outkick The Coverage,” a sports blog centering on football, found that the NFL had 23 million fewer viewers for this year’s playoff action. The blog took a look at the TV ratings and found that every game was down by millions of viewers and ratings fell to a 10-year low. Their bottom line conclusion was not a pretty one for the NFL: “Adding all these numbers up 120.8 million viewers watched the NFL divisional round playoffs in 2018 vs. 144.1 million who watched in 2017, a decline of 23.3 million total viewers.” As Mr. Ed used to say, that ain’t hay.

The upcoming Super Bowl will likely get its usual strong ratings. The New England Patriots long ago replaced the Dallas Cowboys as “America’s team.” Dare I suggest part of the reason also is that fans who tuned out the regular season and playoff games know that Patriots owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady are Trump supporters?

Charlotte, NC - September 18, 2016: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) walks off the field at Bank of America Stadium with his fist up in the air after their game against the Panthers.(Gerry Melendez for ESPN)

It is important not to let what started all this get lost in the mists of time. A 27-year-old multi-millionaire who has never really worked a day in his life decided that America was such a horrid country that, in his words, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color … . There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” His conscience and his pocketbook apparently are not in sync, as he doesn’t mind making millions of dollars in this rotten country that oppresses and murders people of color.

Kaepernick was referring to law enforcement officers in his “people getting away with murder” comment. He has socks that show pigs wearing police hats, and has said that the men and women in American law enforcement set out daily to murder black people. He’ll tell you that the American military is used to subjugate people of color around the globe. And in case you think he is just a run-of-the mill leftist instead of a true moron, he praised Fidel Castro as a “great leader” who has done many “humanitarian things” for the people of Cuba.

THIS is the man that our leftist media both inside and outside of sports has put on a pedestal. The flag is a symbol of oppression; police are pigs; some law enforcement officers start every day intending to kill black people; the military exists to oppress people of color and Fidel Castro was a humanitarian leader. If Kaepernick were really concerned about black people being killed he should go to Chicago where nearly 600 of them were killed by criminals last year. Or he should go to a Planned Parenthood office, the organization that kills 400,000 unborn black babies every year.

The NFL has been fully cowed and co-opted by Kaepernick, his small number of followers who play the game and his large number of sycophants in the media. Even in the face of surveys showing that nearly 75% of Americans disapprove of the protests, the league has pledged nearly $100 million toward “social justice” organizations. It’s their money, so they can throw it at far-left mirages if they wish.

It’s also the fans’ money – and viewership – and they have the right to do with those commodities as they wish. Those wishes now have precious little to do with supporting the NFL. The fans do not think police officers are pigs or that law enforcement personnel set out every day to murder black people. They respect America, its military and its flag. They respect a president willing to call out an un-patriotic, ignorant athlete deep in the fever swamps of ultra-leftism. As the NFL continues to get slaughtered, if you listen closely you might hear these fans celebrating the slaughter of the NFL: “Two, four, six, eight … who do we appreciate? Trump … Trump … Trump.”

Bill Saracino is a member of the Editorial Board of CA Political Review.

Kaepernick collusion claim hard to prove

A grievance filed by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick says his inability to find work, despite six solid seasons in the National Football League, is because of collusion against him by NFL owners — with President Trump’s encouragement — for kneeling during the national anthem to protest police violence against African Americans.

When a skilled professional athlete is suddenly and persistently unemployed while his former team flounders and rivals make do with less-accomplished reserves, blaming his status on a collective freeze-out does not seem far-fetched. But in the legal forum that will judge Kaepernick’s complaint, it can be extremely difficult to prove.

Just ask Barry Bonds.

After his last season with the Giants in 2007, the year he broke Hank Aaron’s career home run record of 755 on his way to final total of 762, Bonds went unsigned for 2008. He couldn’t get a taker even when he offered to play for the Major League Baseball minimum of $500,000, one-32nd of his previous salary. At the time, he was facing a federal indictment on charges of lying to a federal grand jury about steroid use, charges that eventually led to an obstruction-of-justice conviction that was overturned on appeal. …

Click here to read the full story from the San Francisco Chronicle

Stadium plan for Chargers, Raiders near Los Angeles advances

As reported by the Associated Press and featured in the Sacramento Bee:

A proposed stadium near Los Angeles that could become home for the NFL’s San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders hit an early milestone Wednesday.

Organizers said sufficient petition signatures have been verified by election officials to qualify the proposal for the ballot in Carson, where the project would be built on a former landfill.

The Raiders and Chargers are planning a shared stadium in the city on the edge of Los Angeles if both teams fail to get new stadiums in their current hometowns.

Have We Seen an End to Publicly Funded Stadiums?

The San Diego Chargers’ and Oakland Raiders’ announcement that they had taken steps toward jointly building a privately financed $1.7 billion stadium in Carson may have been done at least partly with the intent of persuading their home cities to push for taxpayer subsidies to allow each team to remain in place with their own new stadiums.

levis.stadiumBut the fact that the teams see no trouble in coming up with $850 million apiece seems likely to make San Diego and Oakland voters more opposed to subsidizing billionaire team owners than ever. So does the fact that Walton family member Stan Kroenke, who owns the eager-to-move St. Louis Rams, is preparing to build a $1 billion-plus stadium of his own in Inglewood without public dollars — and with the blessing of city officials who are putting the project on a fast track, bypassing environmental laws.

The deal accepted by Santa Clara County voters in 2010 limiting the subsidies for the 49ers’ new $1.2 billion Levi’s Stadium seemed a good deal at the time; the highest estimate of direct subsidies for the project CalWatchdog.com could find is $156 million. After what’s happened in recent years, that deal doesn’t look so good anymore.

Live sports are gold for TV networks

That’s because the economics of sports have changed since the 49ers’ deal was negotiated. Whether they move or not, the Chargers and Raiders have much less to back up their argument that they would face a “competitive disadvantage” by going without the subsidies that pro teams have traditionally demanded for new stadiums and arenas. They understand that franchise ownership is more beneficial than ever in an era in which live sports are the most consistent way to build a big real-time audience on TV and online.

For the 2014 season, TV networks paid more than $5.5 billion to the NFL. After some league and player pension expenses are paid, the rest of the TV money and other revenue is divvied up among the 32 teams. The $188 million each team got in 2014 was up at least 20 percent from 2013.  Teams are likely to get even more money in coming years. In October, when DirecTV renewed its contract with the NFL, it increased its annual payment from $1 billion to $1.5 billion.

The National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball are enjoying similar huge gains in TV rights payments. Teams in those sports benefit both from national TV fees and local deals with cable companies.

Cable TV bills swell due to sports fees

This double revenue stream explains why the Dodgers sold for a record $2.15 billion in 2012 and the Clippers sold for a record $2 billion in 2014.

Only franchises in the New York City metropolitan area are likely to do better than the 20-year, $3 billion deal the Lakers struck with Time Warner Cable in 2011 to build two regional cable TV networks around the team; and the 25-year, $8.5 billion deal the Dodgers signed with Time Warner in 2013 to set up a dedicated cable channel built on the team’s preseason and regular-season games.

These TV costs, of course, are passed along to consumers via sky-high cable TV bills — something Californians already complain about. When residents put two and two together and realize that pro sports are already hitting their pocketbooks in their cable bills, they may be even less enthusiastic about conveying money to billionaire team owners to help build stadiums.

For these reasons and more, Levi’s Stadium could be the last publicly subsidized pro sports facility in California.

Originally published on CalWatchdog.com

CARTOON: Obama Deflated

Obama deflate

Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle