Coaches against youth football bill

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Michael Benedetto, a downstate assemblyman, is proposing a new bill that would prevent children under 11 years old from participating in tackle football. However, a senator from WNY is opposing the bill.

Football fans are familiar with the bone-jarring, head-to-head tackles that can put players safety in jeopardy and leave them susceptible to concussions.  Player’s safety, especially concussion prevention, has been an ongoing debate across the nation and at every level of play from the pros to little league football.

Benedetto is sponsoring a bill that would ban tackling for children under the age of 11. Benedetto cites new medical awareness about the lasting health effects of  concussions at a young age.

In Buffalo, more than 1,000 players take part in youth football. Some leagues start as early as five years old.

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

Parker added, "I'm for safety first for the kids as well. 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."

It's a polarizing topic for fans of the game. Many have seen too many of these types of hits, others don't want to see the game changed.  Local coaches say today's helmets are better, and concussion awareness and prevention has never been higher.

Lewis Hawkins, a coach for the United Youth Football League 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 to find someone to sponsor a similar bill in the State Senate. New York Senator Tim Kennedy is opposed to the bill.

"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," Senator Kennedy said.

Kennedy plans to take a very public stand against the bill Thursday afternoon. He will be joined by local youth coaches and players at Johnnie B. Wiley Stadium to announce he wants youth football to stay the way it is.

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