Bill would ban young kids from football

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A downstate lawmaker is looking to tackle the issue of concussions in football by banning children under the age of 11 from playing. But State Senator Tim Kennedy wants to block the proposal.

There is no question that there is a new awareness about the dangers of tackle football and and the long term effects of concussions, but little league coaches News 4 spoke with don't feel a proposed statewide law is the way to go.

Tyree Parker of the Buffalo City Youth Football League said, "If you stop those kids from ages 5 to 10, that could be real detrimental for what we're trying to do with our youth here in Buffalo."

Downstate Assemblyman Michael Benedetto is sponsoring a bill that would prohibit children under the age of 11 from playing tackle football. Benedetto cites new medical awareness about the lasting health effects of suffering concussions at a youth age.

"I'm for safety first for the kids as well," Parker said. "These concussions are serious, but I feel if the kids are properly equipped and you got the right coaches teaching them the fundamental techniques on the proper way how to tackle, then I think we can prevent concussions."

Over a thousand inner city Buffalo boys play tackle football.

CAO Sports Plus Director Demeris Johnson said, "We use youth sports to motivate our kids academically, to motivate them socially to be a part of bettering society. And if you take that away from them, and I know they'll say, 'We're not telling them they can't play football, they just can't play contact.' Well if they can't play contact, they'll lose interest."

These coaches say there are better helmets these days and more of an awareness of concussions.

United Youth Football League coach Lewis Hawkins said, "As far as playing contact sports, there's proper ways to do it as far as good form and proper technique to prevent dead-on collisions."

Assemblyman Benedetto has not been able find someone to sponsor a similar bill in the State Senate yet.

State Senator Tim Kennedy said, "Realistically I think it's going to be dead on arrival, so I think even from a conceptual standpoint I think it's just a ridiculous piece of legislation and it doesn't solve anything."

To make sure this proposal doesn't go far, Kennedy is gathering Thursday afternoon with little league coaches and players outside Johnnie B. Wiley Stadium to make a very public stand in support of youth football.

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