Tanu Henry, Lila Brown and Joe W. Bowers Jr. | California Black Media
Last week, the California Assembly moved one step closer to banning tackle football for children in the state younger than six years old.
On Jan. 10, the Assembly Arts Entertainment Sports and Tourism committee voted 5-2 to advance Assembly Bill (AB) 734, which was authored by California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) member Assemblymember Kevin McCarthy (D-Sacramento).
Capitol insiders say the full 80-member state Assembly may take a floor vote on the bill soon.
“On and after 2025, a youth sports organization that conducts a tackle football program, or a youth tackle football league, shall not allow a person younger than six years of age to be a youth tackle football participant through the organization or league,” reads the bill’s language.
McCarthy’s says there is credible research indicating that tackle football can affect the brains of young children.
The bill has drawn some criticisms from a number of other politicians and policymakers.
“Youth football isn’t just about pastime and tradition, it serves as a safe space for our young boys and girls to not just play a game, but a place for structure, discipline, and positive attention many in our community don’t find at home,” said Sacramento County Sheriff Jim Cooper, who opposes AB 734.
“Kids learn about teamwork and serving a purpose bigger than themselves,” added Cooper, who is a former member of the Assembly and CLBC.
Supporters of bill, on the other hand, say the legislation is not taking organized sports away from children.
“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,” said Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Carson), who is also a member of the CLBC.