BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Should children under 14 be allowed to play tackle football?
It’s a question posed in the general assembly with potentially far-reaching implications for youth sports.
One Maryland lawmaker is set to propose a bill banning tackle football for children under the age of 14.
Del. Terri Hill, a Maryland House of Delegates member representing Baltimore and Howard Counties, is a medical doctor and sits on the Health and Government Operations Committee.
Dr. Hill wants state law to prohibit kids under the age of 14 from tackling in football, heading in soccer, and checking in lacrosse and hockey.
Her intent is to limit the risk of head injuries.
“In reality, what we’re trying to do is minimize the risk of kids getting these injuries, because the younger the brain, the more long-term damage we see,” Dr. Hill said.
It’s all in a day’s work for the pros, but the higher risk to kids has already caused both New York and Illinois to consider measures restricting how kids play the game.
Dr. Hill first introduced a bill requiring health care providers or people trained in assessing the risk and management of concussions to be present at games and practices.
“Kids are playing the same sport year round now, there’s no time for the body to rest, there’s no time for the brain to recover,” she explained. “And if we can be smarter about it, we can figure out how to make sure kids get all the benefits of playing athletics from the earliest ages on, and there are numerous advantages to that without putting them at risk for permanent damage to their brains.”
The under 14 prohibition bill will be introduced Monday night or Tuesday.
A hearing on the bill to require experts at games and practices is scheduled for February 15.