ALBANY - A handful of New York lawmakers want to ban tackling in youth football, citing the lingering effects of concussions.
A bill sponsored by Bronx Assemblyman Michael Benedetto would prohibit organized youth football leagues from allowing anyone age 13 or younger to tackle, pointing to research that shows repeated blows to the head can lead to brain-development issues.
If approved, schools or youth leagues that allow tackling would face a fine of up to $2,000.
"All of these hits, they don't necessarily cause concussions and usually do not," Benedetto, a Democrat, said at a news conference Tuesday."But all of these hits causes mass accumulation of blows to the head that damage the development of the brain."
The bill would not prohibit youth from playing flag or touch football, instead focusing on the act of tackling.
It would apply to any football league, school or adult who organizes contact football, applying to both practices and games.
The proposal has been around for four years, but has struggled to gain traction in the Legislature, failing to pick up a Senate sponsor.
It has just a handful of Assembly co-sponsors, including Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, D-Mount Pleasant, Westchester County.
Benedetto acknowledged the bill was unpopular among youth football organizations and some parents, making it difficult to pick up sponsors.
Research over the past decade has put a focus on the effects of concussions in contact sports, particularly football, so lawmakers hope the added attention could help the bill's chances.
In 2015, the National Football League and a collection of retired players reached a $1 billion settlement over lawsuits challenging the league didn't do enough to protect or inform players about the dangers of concussions.
Benedetto was joined Tuesday by Assemblyman Walter Mosley, a Brooklyn Democrat, who played and coached youth football but recently decided to support the bill.
"This was a very difficult decision for me," Mosley said. "I have a son who's now 10, who does not like football. I'm kind of blessed in that way, because I don't have to convince him not to play."