Assemblyman Michael Benedetto is pushing for a law that would ban New York children under the age of 11 from playing organized tackle football, likely the strictest law in the nation if it passes.
Though Benedetto concurs that there are regulations in place that protect young children from injuries, he believes they should be kept out of contact sports to remove the risk of injury altogether.
”It is a sport that emphasizes contact and this has become a dangerous situation for anybody playing a game, but more of a reason for us to look closely at protecting young people,” Benedetto, a Bronx Democrat, said Monday.
Youth football officials were disappointed to hear about Benedetto’s proposal. They say football teaches children how to play at a young age, under the supervision of coaches emphasizing rules and technique.
”When they play tackle football it allows kids to learn the proper technique and how to do it correctly,” said Pop Warner national spokesman Josh Pruce. “It is easier to learn when you are a kid rather than an adult.”
Benedetto said many colleagues in the healivy Democrat state Assembly have expressed interest in co-sponsoring the legislation and some Albany elected officials are considering introducing the bill in the Senate. Others are more skeptical.
”Talk about being out of bounds, not to mention out of touch,” Sen. Thomas O’Mara, a Republican from Big Flats, said in a statement. “What we need to ban is knee-jerk legislation. What’s next? No more fastballs in Little League? Enough.”
Said Sen. Martin Golden, a Brooklyn Republican: “Somebody always wants to regulate something and regulating 6- or 7-year-olds playing football is not the place to do it.”