What Are Your Rights? NY State Assembly Holds Hearing on Youth Tackle Football

Man 1: Around I notice that the neighborhood football fields, I see these young grade school and high school boys on the field and I cringe, and I often wonder which one of these kids is next, which one will end up like me?

Man 2: Mothers ask me the question all the time, you know, why should my son play football? You know, and I have to try to convince them or make sure they understand that the game is safe or they have the choice not to play.

Interviewer: And you just heard sound from a hearing that lasted hours yesterday. Lawmakers trying to decide whether they will propose a bill that will ban tackle football for children under the age of 12. You heard that emotional testimony. And we have Paul Harding from the law firm Martin, Harding & Mazzotti to talk about this bill and the potential implications here. Paul, thank you for being here.

Paul: Sure Absolutely.

Interviewer: So what exactly does this legislation…what does it require? And when would it go into effect?

Paul: Well, what we have is legislation that was passed recently with legislation that said, “Hey, listen you need to give parents information about concussions.” The risk thereof and if you think your child has one, right? So that’s the law that passed and really goes into effect in December. So really for next season, you know these hearings were something that was really a reaction to a Boston University study.

Interviewer: Okay. And as we were just saying, people testifying yesterday from that assembly health committee, we heard from witnesses, we heard from doctors, athletes, and some were pushing an outright ban on tackle football for kids. Some obviously coaches, and people who love the sport don’t wanna see this happen.

Paul: No they don’t.

Interviewer: What do you think is the catalyst for this happening right now?

Paul: You know I gotta tell you even for me, you know, that movie “Concussion” with Will Smith, right? When that came out I remember watching that and I had read stuff and heard stuff, but it just brought to life and we’ve seen such momentum from that but I alluded to the Boston University study that really dealt with tackle football for kids. And those studies were pretty alarming, it got everybody thinking about this and so that’s what this hearing is all about.

Interviewer: And the fact that this conversation is now ongoing, we’re hearing from people on both sides. How do you see this actually playing out? I mean do you think that the state will eventually ban this for young kids?

Paul: So can’t keep our kids in a bubble, right? Skiing is dangerous, soccer’s dangerous, lacrosse and hockey, but at what point do you subject them to what level of impact? I guess that’s the question. But if I were to read the tea leaves, I think something’s coming down the pike you know, just to be super clear that there is no legislation even pending that would limit or halt youth football but as I watch this momentum, I have to assume that something is in the works, we’re gonna probably be following up on this story.

Interviewer: Okay. Thank you so much, I know it’s a big talker out there.

Paul: It sure is.