Is the Future of Football on the Line?

Over the past few months, there have been talks in the state of Massachusetts to ban participation in tackle football until the eighth grade.

This proposal comes in regards to multiple studies about CTE and the danger that football can put on young people. Two Massachusetts lawmakers are pushing for this bill to go into effect, and have received backlash from multiple parents, young players, and even professional athletes. 

On Tuesday, April 16th, there was a rally at the Massachusetts State House in hopes to save tackle football. NFL Hall of Famer and former Patriots linebacker Andre Tippett was there in solidarity with those protesting. Their rallying cry was that parents should be able to make the decision whether or not they allow their kids to play tackle football, and lawmakers should stay out of it. 

What you need to know about the act:

    • It is entitled “An Act for No Organized Head Impacts to Schoolchildren.”
    • 8th Bristol District state Rep. Paul A. Schmid III and 20th Middlesex District state Rep. Bradley H. Jones Jr. sponsored the act.
    • Children could start to play tackle football once they reached the eighth grade.
    • Children could still play any version of football that isn’t tackle football, such as flag or touch.
    • Any school or league that allows children to play tackle football will be fined up to $2,000 and up to $5,000 for any subsequent offense within 12 months of the first violation.
    • If a player gets injured playing tackle football before the eighth grade, then the school or league could be fined up to $10,000.
    • There are currently 17 representatives who are in support of this legislation.
    • Two representatives who initially supported the bill have withdrawn their names from support.
    • There are 5 other states (New York, New Jersey, Maryland, California, and Illinois) that have proposed legislation similar to this.

If this bill passes in the state of Massachusetts, the future of football could change forever. With students being thrown into football later in their lives, their bodies may not be as ready to sustain some of the hits that they could undertake in college or in the NFL as some players from other states. This bill could also decrease the amount of college football players coming out of Massachusetts because recruiters may see them as liabilities due to their lack of experience on the field. Children may also be more drawn to other fall sports like soccer or cross country because they could participate in them to their full extent from a young age.

However, if this bill is passed, there are some positives. The players would still know the rules and be able to participate in a form of the sport. The main positive is the lack of possibility of head injury that could occur to these children while their brain is still developing.

Overall, this legislature is extremely controversial, and it will be interesting to see how it pans out in Massachusetts and in the other states that it is being proposed in.

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